Acclaimed industry veteran John “Steady” Steedman has been cajoled out of semi-retirement to head up the media buying for the WPP and STW mergers.
It is understood that STW chief Sir Martin Sorrell personally persuaded Steedman to take up the position as chairman of WPP Media Services Australia.
Steedman resigned from his role as GroupM chairman and CEO in April 2015. Many believed his departure came after GroupM’s famed misreporting scandals the previous year, however, Steedman has strenuously denied that was the reason behind the decision and he always had plans to step down at that time.
Despite his departure, Steedman has remained on a number of boards including executive duties for WPP AUNNZ.
WPP AUNZ CEO Michael Connaghan said with a long and proven career in the media industry, Steedman was well placed to help move the Group’s Media sector through its next phase of growth.
“John has an innate ability to get business cooperating for the benefit of clients. It’s what drove the success of GroupM under his stewardship, and will no doubt result in further growth across the newly expanded Media capability of WPP AUNZ. In addition to our large iconic media businesses, we have a number of smaller creative and media agencies spread across AUNZ who will benefit from having Steady’s experience available.”
Steedman said of his new position: “WPP AUNZ has some of the most outstanding media businesses in the region. As individual agencies they are already successful; working even closer together they will be a force to be reckoned with. The wider group of agencies I have been asked to oversee represent some amazing specialists and wonderful growth opportunities.”
Steedman’s job will be to devise a strategy for the STW and WPP’s media agencies to work cohesively. STW businesses include Bohemia, DT, Ikon, Maxus and Mindshare. While brands under WPP include Mediacom, Mindshare, Maxus and MEC.
“While we’ll be trying to achieve greater horizontality, it will be business as usual for the agencies as they look to continue their pattern of growth and outstanding client service. That means Ikon remains as is, GroupM remains as is, and other agencies also remain unchanged. What is different is the ability to drive collaborative opportunities for our clients across a greater breadth of capability.
“WPP AUNZ is in an ideal position to lead the market across a range of disciplines, and I’m excited at the prospect of working with such outstanding and established leaders,” Steedman said.
Steedman’s new position is effective immediately.