M&C Saatchi boss Justin Graham has concluded his search for Brett Dawson’s successor at media agency Bohemia, with Wavemaker UK CEO Paul Hutchinson appointed to the role, Mumbrella can reveal.
Hutchinson has been CEO at Wavemaker for the last four years, taking over just five months after his former agency, MEC was merged with Maxus. Joining Bohemia, he will also sit on the executive team of M&C Saatchi Group AUNZ and lead the media and commerce capabilities.
Speaking to Mumbrella, Graham said with the long transition of Dawson’s departure, the group had the opportunity to ask “what does leadership look like for Bohemia’s next chapter?”
“Bohemia became part of the M&C Saatchi family five years ago, and we’ve gone on that journey around what true integration looks like. Now it’s almost taking another turn, which is that media is being so disrupted in this market and arguably, you’d say that’s a been disrupted even further over in the UK and in some of the larger markets as well.”
“So we step back and say, okay what does it look like to really go and make that step change again and make that mark in the market. Thinking around media and intelligence and strategy on top of it has never been more prominent. The benefits of being more connected into creative design, PR, sponsorship capabilities, as well has never been more in need and probably more desired by some of our competitors as well.”
Graham said this brief brought them to their conclusion, hiring someone “world-class”, and that was hiring Hutchinson.
Hutchinson said that his move later this year is “a super exciting opportunity to do what I’m most passionate about, and that’s incredible work for an amazing roster of clients that has a positive impact on the world”.
“I think now it’s time for the industry to stop talking about the features of the technologies and the capabilities that we have, and start turning those into benefits for clients and benefits for audiences as well, and really connecting the right messages at the right time with the right people.”
He continued that doing that within a creative group, such as M&C Saatchi allows added energies, commitment and focus to go into delivering just that, as well as highlighting his enthusiasm for the culture he has seen as of yet at Bohemia.
It has been a quiet year for Bohemia on the client-winning side of the occasion. Both said that new relationships will be a focus and that there is an opportunity for growth within the current M&C group roster, as Graham said “while the history of the group has come from an advertising base”, the revenue has started to “firmly reflect” that it’s integrated pillars and capabilities are now the accelerators.
While at Wavemaker, one of the largest agencies in the UK market, Hutchinson was responsible for clients including GL Group, BMW MINI Group, IAG (British Airways), UK Government, Netflix, Paramount, and Morrisons.
Hutchinson agreed that he is “super cognisant” of the opportunities to expand on the existing relationships.
“When I come in, the first thing I need to do is look and listen and learn. I’m certain there are massive opportunities that already exist within the business we can add to and enhance what we’re currently doing for our client base. And I think that is a significant growth opportunity for us and for our people.
“I really think that clients at the moment are asking for support, help, and leadership across the entire landscape, more than they ever have done, and everything M&C has under their roof is what they’re asking for.”
In order for these relationships to expand, Graham said “the connected piece takes time”, highlighting the work the group has done just over the past year.
“Entertainment Group, Racing Victoria, TikTok, and more recently World Pride have all been connected wins for us across the group. So yeah there’s definitely opportunity on the horizon as well, whether it be within our current client base, or obviously externally as well.”
As M&C Saatchi further expanded its relationship this month with Woolworths Group, when posed if Hutchinson’s arrival could be well-timed with an industry rumoured media pitch for the grocer giant at the end of the year, Graham laughed and responded that “it’s all speculation”.
Hutchinson’s arrival marks one of the first major international talent acquisitions for the Australian market since the borders reopened, and Graham said the hire “sends a signal around the great work that’s coming out of this market”, and that it is open for disruption as well.
“The idea of bringing in a progressive new thinker as well is something again that we’re really excited about and I think the media owners are as excited as the clients as well around bringing in that new thinking.”
“We’re just excited that great talent attracts great talent, and that’s what we wanted in Hutch to come down to the market as well. So hopefully there’s a flow-on effect around that too.”
On what he hopes to bring, Hutchinson said is to help his teams understand what the clients are asking for.
“I think sometimes that can be quite unclear through no fault of anybody’s because I don’t think years ago that you would’ve invented a car, you’d have asked for a faster horse.”
As was the case five years ago, there are still no plans to integrate the Bohemia name under the group banner, as it remains “a distinctive brand in the market”, and “only adds to the M&C Saatchi Group proposition”
The appointment comes as M&C Saatchi agreed over the weekend a deal to be purchased by digital marketing group, Next Fifteen for £310 million (A$549m), after the group rejected the fourth bid last week from top shareholder, Vin Murria.
Mumbrella understands that locally there will be no material impact, however working with Next Fifteen provides an opportunity for a potential expansion of capabilities, particularly in data space.