WPP’s media investment group GroupM announced this morning that it has appointed Karen Blackett OBE as its new UK CEO. Blackett will retain her current role as WPP’s UK country manager alongside her new position leading GroupM’s UK efforts. She replaces Tom George, who has been GroupM’s UK CEO since 2018.
In the new role, Blackett will be responsible for strategy and operations across all of GroupM’s agencies in the UK, including MediaCom, Wavemaker, Mindshare and Essence. GroupM says she will be tasked with helping GroupM’s agencies use their scale “to provide more powerful and effective solutions for clients through the development of technology enabled services”.
GroupM global CEO Christian Juhl described Blackett as “an influential leader and change agent over the years,” adding that “she is the perfect example of someone who brings to life our vision of making advertising work better for people”.
“This is an exciting time for the advertising industry, and I look forward to working with Demet and Christian to keep up the amazing pace GroupM has set in the U.K,” said Blackett. “I feel we’ve only just begun and see so much opportunity across our agencies.”
Blackett, a well known figure within the industry, started off in ad land in MediaCom in 1999, and came into the WPP fold as MediaCom’s parent company Grey Advertising was acquired by WPP in 2005. Since then she rose to become chief operations officer EMEA at MediaCom in 2008, and then UK CEO in 2011.
She was then appointed WPP’s first UK country manager in 2018, where she was responsible for delivering growth and retaining and attracting talent within the UK.
Alongside her work within MediaCom and WPP, Blackett is also known for her work promoting diversity and inclusion with the industry. Projects she’s launched include MediaCom’s Apprenticeship Programme for 18-24 year olds, and WPP Roots, a cultural inclusion programme designed to attract and progress multicultural talent within WPP.
Blackett’s appoint comes after a somewhat disappointing recent quarter for GroupM UK. While GroupM in the UK had an overall strong 2019, WPP Mark Read noted in the company’s recent financial results that the business saw “some weaknesses coming through” in Q4. But WPP CFO Paul Richardson said GroupM’s performance was made to look worse than it was since it has “an exceptionally touch quarter 4” in the previous year to compete against.