Power 50 spin-off: Top 10 Ad Agency CEOs 2018

By AdNews | 24 September 2018
Nick Garrett at the Agency of the Year Awards

This first appeared in the September issue of AdNews Magazine.

In the fast–paced world of media, it can be hard to know who the real winners are, especially in the leadership space.

This year, AdNews has zoned in and identified leaders within the industry who best exemplify success in the advertising business. Below, in no particular order, are the top 10 ad agency bosses making waves.

Three of the agency leaders were made the Power 50 list and it's clear to see where greater gender balance is needed, with just three of the top 10 on the list being women. This year, yet again, highlights the wider diversity issues across the industry.

There were also a few agency leaders, such as Saatchi & Saatchi’s Anthony Gregorio, and Thinkerbell’s Margie Reid, who feature on the 'Ones to Watch' list.

Clemenger Sydney and Melbourne CEO Nick Garrett

Clemenger’s heritage, paired with Nick Garrett’s fierce leadership, has been a winning combination for the agency since he joined as Clemenger Melbourne CEO in October 2015 from sister agency Colenso BBDO. His partnership with James McGrath has seen Clemenger Melbourne ranked Agency of the Year at Cannes Lions in 2017 and recognised as Australian Agency of the Year locally at major award shows. Most recently, Garrett took on the expanded role of Sydney and Melbourne CEO and is leading the regeneration of the Sydney office. He’s one of the most polarising personalities in the industry, but his power is irrefutable.

CHE Proximity CEO Chris (Howie) Howatson

When Chris Howatson was placed at the helm of Clemenger Group’s newly merged creative agency CHE Proximity in 2012, he became one of the youngest executives in the country to lead a major agency. Six years later, and CHE Proximity was recently named AdNews Agency of the Year and boasts a client list any agency would be envious of. It works with blue chip companies, including Virgin Australia, Telstra, Mazda, Coles and Velocity. Howatson, better known as Howie, is recognised not only as one of the most progressive leaders, but one of the nicest CEOs in town and we’re sure his best work is yet to come.

Chris Howatson 2018

The Monkeys CEO Mark Green

The Monkeys has long been recognised as one of Australia’s best agencies. We chose to name Accenture Initiative on The Power 50 list, following its acquisition of The Monkeys, instead of the individual players within that agency/consultancy hybrid. But, there’s no doubt that Mark Green deserves a nod as the leader who built The Monkeys to what it is today. Alongside founding partners Justin Drape and Scott Nowell, Green has led the development of some of Australia’s most iconic advertising for MLA and Telstra and is now reshaping the industry through The Monkeys relationship with Accenture.

Mark Green 2018

McCann Australia CEO Nic Taylor

After leading one of Australia’s biggest agencies, DDB, for five years, Nic Taylor shocked the industry when she took on the role of McCann CEO. Taylor has her work cut out for her at McCann, with the Australian agency lagging behind its global counterparts and, at just 200 people, ready for growth. With her experience working on brands like Telstra and Volkswagen and Westpac, there’s no doubt Taylor is the right person for the job.

Nic Taylor

Leo Burnett Australia CEO Melinda Geertz

Melinda Geertz is one of the few female national CEOs, leading Leo Burnett across Sydney and Melbourne. Her career with Leo Burnett spans over 30 years, joining the Chicago office before moving to Australia with the agency and leading the Melbourne office for 15 years before expanding her remit last year to include Sydney. Both agencies are renowned for their creativity and innovation, and in 2017, Leo Burnett Australia ranked number nine in the world for creativity. Geertz recently led the launch of VivaWomen at Publicis, advocating for women within Publicis and empowering its female staff.

Melinda Geertz

TBWA Australia and New Zealand CEO Paul Bradbury

Paul Bradbury is one of the most prolific agency leaders in Australia, spending almost 12 years leading the Sydney office and the last four at the helm of Australia and New Zealand. Under his leadership, the agency has won recognition including Australian Effie Effectiveness Agency of the Year, AdNews Network of the Year (twice), Cannes Grand Prix and a number of other gongs. Just this year, TBWA has won the creative accounts for Amazon, Woolmark, Sheridan and PepsiCo. Prior to TBWA, Bradbury worked at M&C Saatchi Sydney, Bartle Bogle Hegarty London and McCann Erickson Sydney where he started his career in advertising. He leads 340 people across TBWA.

Paul Bradbury

M&C Saatchi CEO Jaimes Leggett

Jaimes Leggett leads arguably the biggest agency in Australia at almost 600 people. M&C Saatchi has had a tough 12 months, losing NRMA, and without creative leadership for almost a year, but we opted to keep Leggett on the list as he’s proven his power to turn around the agency in the past. He also led the acquisition of media agency Bohemia last year, which is a deal that could play a pivotal role in the future of M&C. Leggett has been at M&C for almost six years. Prior to his role, he was the managing director of Ogilvy & Mather in London and led the Grand Union London office.

 jaimes leggett

Host/Havas CEO Laura Aldington

Now at the helm of recently merged Host/Havas, Laura Aldington is playing a pivotal role in the restructure of these two agencies. Joining Host from Anomaly, Aldington had been at the independent for almost five years before it was merged with Havas. In the last 12 months, Aldington has hit a number of milestones in her career, with Host/Havas awarded three Grand Prix gongs at Cannes Lions and a number of other international awards. At 200 staff, Aldington is in charge of one of the smaller agencies on the list, but if the last six months are anything to go by, growth is on the cards for Host/Havas.

Laura Aldington

Isobar CEO Australia and New Zealand Konrad Spilva

Konrad Spliva co–founded Isobar in 2001 (then called Visual Jazz) and has successfully evolved the business through three major mergers. Under his leadership, Isobar Australia has grown to employ 500 people and now comprises five separate businesses, as well as a division dedicated to creating social change. In 2018, Spilva became CEO of Isobar Group Australia which, along with Isobar, includes Accordant, WiTH Collective, SMG and New Zealand's Little Giant.

 Konrad Spilva 2018

DDB Australia CEO Andrew Little

Andrew Little had been with the DDB Group for 15 years before becoming CEO of DDB Group Australia in 2014, with responsibility over the network's five creative and communication agencies, DDB, DBB Remedy, RAPP, Mango and Tribal Worldwide Australia . His leadership has been credited with the transformation of the Melbourne office where he was managing director for 10 years. Relocating to Sydney in 2012 to take up the position of managing director of DDB Australia, Little has helped spearhead a successful national structure. He now leads 350 staff across Sydney and Melbourne.

Andrew Little 2018

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