Essence advertising & marketing assignments

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Digital media agency Essence was upgraded in 2019 into a fully fledged global network, replacing Maxus as WPP's #4 media network. COMvergence estimated billings of $2.7bn in 2020. Though still very much smaller than its three siblings by billings, its tech-centred, data-focused approach has gradually been rolled out to the group's other networks. An indication of its importance to WPP was the promotion of Essence CEO Christian Juhl to overall CEO of WPP's entire GroupM media division. In a significant new development in 2022, Essence was merged with bigger sister MediaCom to form EssenceMediacom. The business was founded in London in 2005 by three ad industry outsiders. Matt Isaacs, Andy Bonsall and Andrew Shebbeare all worked in management consultancy or financial services, but saw a way of adding value to the booming digital media marketplace by mining insights from a combination of data, technology and anaytics. The agency's first client was Carphone Warehouse, but the major early breakthrough was the capture of Google's digital media account, initially in the UK in 2006 and then globally. The first US outpost was established in 2010. Former Razorfish executive Christian Juhl joined the business in 2013, becoming global CEO a year later. WPP acquired Essence in 2015, narrowly beating a rival offer from Omnicom. (The latter quickly established its own equivalent agency that same year, Hearts & Science). Following WPP's merger of MEC and Maxus in 2017 to form Wavemaker, several major accounts from those two predecessor agencies were shifted into Essence, establishing the business as WPP's 4th global media network. Christian Juhl was promoted to global CEO of the entire GroupM division in 2019, overseeing Mindshare, Mediacom and Wavemaker as well. He was replaced as CEO of Essence by Kyoko Matsushita, previously chief client officer and regional chief for Asia Pacific. Essence co-founders Isaacs and Bonsall left the business following its acquisition by WPP; Shebbeare departed in 2020. As of mid 2021, the network operated 22 offices worldwide, half of them in the Asia Pacific region with another nine in the Americas (including six in the US). The EMEA region has only two offices at present, in London and Duesseldorf. Following the merger into MediaCom, the latter's Nick Lawson was appointed as CEO of the enlraged business. Kyoko Matsushita was appointed as country CEO of WPP Japan.

Capsule checked 6th August 2021

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Update 26th Apr 2022: In the latest consolidation of its assets, WPP took most observers by surprise with the merger of topflight traditional media network MediaCom with its challenger brand Essence. Though the younger business gets top billing in the newly combined EssenceMediacom, the older brand's management retain most of the senior positions. MediaCom's Nick Lawson becomes CEO of EssenceMediacom, while Essence's Kyoko Matsushita moves to WPP's country CEO for Japan. The enlarged entity will have around 10,000 staff worldwide, with billings of almost $25bn. The brands will merge in most markets, through they will continue to operate separately in some countries - notably the UK - for the time being. At the same time, WPP's three data, analytics and performance units Finecast, Xaxis and GroupM Services are merging to form GroupM Nexus.

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