Wunderman Thompson appoints global creative leadership; going back on JWT’s no global CCO policy

Daniel Bonner and Bas Korsten

Wunderman Thompson has appointed Bas Korsten and Daniel Bonner as global chief creative officers. Korsten was promoted from his previous role as creative lead for Wunderman Thompson Amsterdam and headed the agency’s global futures council, described as an advisory body that drives innovation through the network. Bonner was previously global chief creative officer at Wunderman.

The Amsterdam-based Korsten had spent nearly a decade at J Walter Thompson and was previously with DDB, besides founding Nothing Commercial Creativity and Selmore. Bonner had previously worked with Sapient Razorfish and AKQA.

A note from Wunderman Thompson said: “Korsten and Bonner have been mandated with leading the global creative community at the agency and raising the standard of Wunderman Thompson’s work while harnessing the full breadth of its capabilities.” The executives will report to Wunderman Thompson global CEO Mel Edwards.

The appointments mark a change in the stated policy at pre-merger J Walter Thompson. Prior to its merger with Wunderman almost a year ago, the agency had parted ways with the chief creative officer Matt Eastwood last March.

Matt Eastwood

In an internal note announcing Eastwood’s departure, J Walter Thompson’s then worldwide CEO Tamara Ingram had said: “As such, we have no plans to replace the role.” Explaining the decision, she had said: “This is a structural decision that will allow us to be more agile, leverage our collective global bench strength and encourage the burgeoning diverse ‘maker culture’ growing within J Walter Thompson.”

Ingram’s decision to do away with the CCO role had provoked surprise and even outrage around the world including from Piyush Pandey who would  go on to become the worldwide chief creative officer at Ogilvy in December 2018. In an interview with The Economic Times, Pandey who was at the time, executive chairman India and creative director South Asia at Ogilvy had said: “I’ve known Tamara Ingram for many years and respect her as an industry leader. I don’t know Matt Eastwood and so this has not got anything to do with an individual.

“But I am appalled at her statement. It’s her company and decision and my comment may mean nothing to her, but on principle, I believe if there’s no role for a worldwide chief creative officer then there’s definitely no role for a worldwide CEO.”

Speaking to Mumbrella in an interview in April this year, Matt Eastwood who is currently global chief creative officer at McCann Health had said: “I think that the CCO is the beating heart that drives creative through the whole organisation. I worry that JWT will wake up in a couple of years and go ‘where has our creative reputation gone?’, since they have not focused on it.”

A note from Wunderman Thompson on the appointment of Korsten and Bonner said: “They will be responsible for driving the Wunderman Thompson offering forward and setting the agency’s creative vision.

“Each executive has a proven track record of collaboration, and establishing growing teams from which award-winning work has flourished, including Cannes Lions, D&AD, Clio, LIAA, ADC and One Show.”

Commenting on the appointment, Wunderman Thompson global CEO Mel Ewards said: “Bas and Daniel each have an eye for creative solutions and a reputation for putting innovation at the heart of everything they do. Their ability to make ground-breaking work is why they are the ideal creative leadership team at our agency. I couldn’t be more excited to see what the two of them accomplish as creative leaders.”

Korsten said: “Creativity is the lifeblood of Wunderman Thompson. Leveraging our network to build and enhance creative solutions that grow our clients’ business is what truly inspires me. We can do great things together. So, I’m thrilled to step into this new role and I can’t wait to connect all our capabilities with the incredible creative talent we have at the agency.”

Bonner said: “I’m really looking forward to joining forces with Bas and continuing to elevate Wunderman Thompson globally as an inspirational powerhouse. Creativity is a genuine competitive advantage for brands and business, and we are 100% committed to develop groundbreaking ideas for our clients, deeply intertwined with data and technology.”


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