Essence enters Korea – by swallowing Maxus

GroupM’s digital agency Essence is to expand into South Korea by taking over media agency Maxus.

Forming part of GroupM’s global restructure, Maxus team members and clients will fall under the Essence umbrella by the end of this year.

Essence currently does not have a base in the capital Seoul, although Mumbrella Asia understands that the Singapore office has previously provided support for its main global client Google in South Korea.

Once complete, Essence South Korea will operate as a 15-person team under the leadership of Jay Lee, Maxus’s business director who will switch into the same role at the agency from the beginning of next year.

Jay Lee

Elsewhere in the world, WPP has merged Maxus with MEC, in a bid to save money and pool resources into Essence. 

Following the announcement, global head of the new entity NewCo, Tim Castree, said GroupM intended to scrap its Asia Pacific management for NewCo and have all its regional leaders report directly to himself.

Maxus APAC CEO Ajit Varghese will be moving from Singapore to London to head the global market development team at NewCo, while MEC’s Peter Vogel will return to his native Australia to head up NewCo there.

Meanwhile, MEC Korea will become NewCo from January 2018 and will be led by Heonjeong Yun, the agency’s current managing director.

Christian Juhl, global CEO of Essence, said: “Korea is incredibly important to many of our biggest global clients.  We’re excited to expand our localised services to those seeking support in the market. Jay has done an impeccable job managing client business in Korea. He shares Essence’s values for putting data at the centre of everything we do for clients in order to offer ultimate accountability.”


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