WPP Plc appointed Mark Read as chief executive officer to succeed its long-time leader Martin Sorrell, picking the internal favorite to usher in a new culture and direction at the advertising giant.
Read has been helping to run the world’s largest ad company as interim co-chief operating officer since Sorrell’s sudden April departure and starts as CEO immediately.
The 51-year-old takes the helm at a tough time for WPP and the ad industry. The company’s shares have been hit as consumer giants reduce their ad spending and competition intensifies with new digital rivals. WPP, a vast network of hundreds of ad agencies including J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy, was forced to find a new leader when Sorrell resigned after a board probe into allegations of misconduct, which he denied.
“The priority for the board and the task ahead for Mark and the new management team is to build on this position of strength, while pursuing a clear vision for change and value creation,” Roberto Quarta, WPP’s chairman, said in a statement. The company needs to “foster a culture that attracts the best and brightest: inclusive, respectful, collaborative, diverse.”
Bloomberg reported on Aug. 31 that WPP was preparing to appoint Read as CEO as early as this week.
Andrew Scott, who has shared the interim co-COO job with Read since April, will stay on as COO on a permanent basis. Quarta, who had become executive chairman when Sorrell left, has resumed his role as chairman.