Max Exodus: Evolving Essence Bolstered By Shifting Senior Maxus Executives

Late last month when GroupM disclosed it was folding its media agency Maxus into its larger sibling MEC, the firm said the merger would free up resources for initiatives like bulking up digital agency Essence and transforming it into a fuller-service agency providing both digital and traditional media services.

To help make that happen, three senior Maxus executives are now shifting to roles at Essence. A couple of other top-level managers are also joining the Essence team.

Steve Williams has been named Essence CEO of North America; he currently holds this title at Maxus. Williams is charged with driving innovation and is also being tasked with insuring client and employee “satisfaction” throughout the region.  Previously, Williams built out the OMD UK Group, and then led PHD USA as President. 



Rob Reifenheiser, current Essence CEO of The Americas, will shift to the newly created role of executive director, helping Essence with the task of winning and integrating multi-agency clients across both the agency and GroupM.  

Nick Baughan will become CEO of Essence EMEA, after serving as CEO of Maxus UK.  He will be responsible for leading the 260+ person region and its client roster, which includes the Financial Times, Google, and FrieslandCampina. As reported earlier this week, Jenny Bullis, Essence’s current CEO of EMEA, is moving into the role of Chief Strategy Officer for [m]PLATFORM.

Also joining Essence is Damian Blackden, who has been appointed Chief Strategy Officer; he currently holds the title at Maxus. Blackden will design the agency’s proposition, which will include bridging digital and analog by applying Essence’s digital-first techniques to all channels.  He’s a digital pioneer who is credited with conceiving and launching Zenith’s digital business and has since held leadership roles at UM and Omnicom Media Group.

Given the agency’s evolving proposition, Essence is also creating two new senior positions. Simeon Duckworth will step into the role of global head of strategy & analytics, responsible for driving the agency’s analytical capability across both digital and analog channels.  He has worked in the space for over 20 years in both media and creative, most recently as head of data and analytics strategic development at GroupM.

And Garrick Schmitt has been named global director, experience design, charged with further bridging Essence’s regional creative teams across North America, EMEA and APAC. He most recently co-founded Junior, a company that invented digital products and services. Before that, he spent 15 years at Razorfish, lastly as managing director and North American lead of service innovation.

Commenting on the additions Essence Global CEO Christian Juhl stated: “For years, Essence has harnessed granular event-level data to deeply understand audiences, moments and outcomes to deliver world-class digital advertising. Our firm intent is to apply the very same techniques, combined with machine learning and new modelling approaches, to inform targeting decisions and measurement across all media channels.”

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