Dentsu Creative GIF

the showcase 2023

A Year of Fierce Ambition Under Dentsu Creative's new CEO Jessica Tamsedge

Dentsu Creative's 2023 was fast, fun and forward-looking

By creative salon

This summer proved remarkably different for Dentsu Creative, compared to last year. In 2022, Dentsu Creative was formed when DentsuMB, The Story Lab, Gleam, John Brown, MKTG, BJL and Whitespac and Isobar were merged together. It was also the year marked by the very sudden departure of Dentsu International global chief executive Wendy Clark, making the future seem somewhat uncertain. This year, Dentsu Creative in the UK feels energised. It chose hope and fierce ambition when it brought in the very impressive Jessica Tamsedge as UK chief executive (previously chief client officer at McCann UK and Europe), who went on to hire the highly awarded creative leader, Caroline Pay, as chief creative officer and chief strategy officer, Theo Izzard-Brown, who was hired from McCann London. And kudos also to Angela Tangas, Dentsu International UK & Ireland CEO, who bought in Tamsedge and is looking to create a new dimension of creativity to turbo-charge the Dentsu UK&I group.

Dentsu Creative, under the leadership of CEO Jessica Tamsedge, reflects on a dynamic 2023 marked by speed, joy, and future-facing strategies that embraces the Japanese 'Sanpo Yoshi' principle – the concept of achieving three-way good by pursuing actions that benefit not only business but also people and society. That unique lens led the agency to not only secure pivotal wins with major clients but also unveiled groundbreaking policies promoting workplace inclusivity.

We spoke to Tamsedge about the agency's journey through 2023 and her vision for 2024 and beyond.

Jessica Tamsedge, CEO of Dentsu Creative on the agency's 2023:

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year

People – launching our paternity, fertility, menopause and neurodiversity policy to ensure we are a safe and inclusive place to work, for all. We have also made a concerted effort to connect our people to the wider creative sector through training, mentoring and access. Partnerships with the likes of Factory International, Somerset House and the Tate have taken our people out of their advertising bubble and into the wider creative space, across the UK.

The work – we won new business with our most important clients. Including our launch of Hilton in Vegas in partnership with F1 and Lando Norris. We also expanded relationships with Mondelez and Sherwin Williams, winning the Valspar business. We took Waitrose into the entertainment commerce space and Kellogg’s (Kellanova) into the web3 space with gaming to support sustainable packaging.

One Dentsu & Social Impact – Every one of our wins has been in partnership with either Media or Merkle. William Grant the most recent integrated win across creative, media, data and production. Our creative innovation proposition, Dentsu Labs, was born in Japan and is now our global, Group wide approach to technology for brand building and for societal good. And our company philosophy Sanpo Yoshi – a belief in work that is good for people, for business and for society – shapes every aspect of our culture and commitment. Our partnership with Ad Net Zero and The Code best reflects our commitment to sustainability, social impact and education.

AC/DC – excuse to play Highway to Hell across our UK offices each month, celebrating our brilliant people and all they have achieved.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

We held our first Plug & Play event at Somerset House in October. It was our hello to clients, partners, press and the wider industry. A chance to tell the world who we are, what we stand for and why DC is different. We had artists, curators, technologists, commissioners and platform partners talking about the power of collaboration to build brands for what’s next. A very proud day to be Dentsu.

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

Patience. With the access we have to our Japanese innovation teams, our data and technology partners in Merkle and the Joint Business Plans we’ve developed with media platforms and partners, there is so much we can do to place our clients’ brands at the heart of culture and commerce.

What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

More firsts with our incredible partners, including Hilton following our Vegas launch in partnership with F1, Waitrose following our first live cooking school and Mondelez following our global live Big Dunk for Oreo.

What one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

Pre-competitive collaboration. When it comes to sustainability and social impact, I’d like to see agencies organising around the biggest issues, defining them together and then competing like hell to find innovative solutions. Regulation like the EU CSRD will require huge effort from us all and the more we can share learnings and standardise an approach, the more we will all benefit.

Which industry leader have you admired most in 2024?

Dr Alex Mahon. Responsible for pushing social and cultural boundaries whilst staying on the right side of Channel 4’s public service remit. Watching her speak to the CMS Select Committee last month was a masterclass in media leadership, as she championed the need for more open-minded, progressive public discourse and the creativity required to get there.

Creative Salon on Dentsu Creative's 2023

Dentsu Creative has experienced a transformative 2023 marked by strategic hires. The agency welcomed key figures - with Jessica Tamsedge, formerly McCann UK & Europe’s chief client officer, as the UK CEO. She's been assigned the responsibility of establishing a vibrant culture, in collaboration with the broader Dentsu UK family in media and CXM, providing scaled modern creativity for clients.

To complete her leadership team, Caroline Pay from Headspace in California took the reins as the chief creative officer and Theo Izzard-Brown was hired from McCann London to UK CSO.

Among the notable additions, the agency also appointed its first business development director in Matthew Lambert (formerly group director of business development at Miroma Group), who was quickly promoted to Managing Partner, Growth; and promoted Julie Chadwick and Guy Ainsworth, former managing partners in Manchester, to joint managing directors. A savvy move made by Tamsedge and a brilliant marker of creative intent that sits not just in London but tells a powerful story of its UK regional footprint.

Amidst these changes, Ete Davies stepped into the role of CEO for Dentsu Creative EMEA.

In addition, Dentsu Creative expanded its portfolio by introducing a new entertainment division led by Cathy Boxall, previously The Story Lab’s Global MD and Juan Woodbury, as global head of branded content & entertainment. One of the most recent works that speaks to the breadth of the agency offering is the talent management and influencer marketing agency Gleam Futures' campaign that stood against beauty filters in this campaign.

It features images of Gleam talent with copy encouraging people to "Be a bold influence" with lines such as "Bold is texture, fine lines, pimples and dimples" and "Bold is calling time on filters". It is part of a wider campaign to get the government to make changes to the Online Safety Bill, calling for creators to make it clear when they have retouched photos.

The agency's creative contributions extended to campaigns for American Express Gold, Hilton Vegas, Vodafone's Elf and Seek, Oreo, Microsoft Teams and Ronseal.

Recently, the agency's CMO Report indicates a pivotal moment in marketing, with 69 per cent of surveyed CMOs expressing concern that the industry's focus on purpose may overshadow selling, prompting a shift towards purpose as a central driver for sustainable business growth amidst evolving audience expectations and behaviours.

Creative Salon Says: Dentsu Creative UK has been galvanised in 2023 with the arrival of Jessica Tamsedge as UK CEO, Caroline Pay, as chief creative officer and chief strategy officer, Theo Izzard-Brown - signalling a clear focus on a very strategic leadership. A new spirit of ambition is in evidence at the agency. Formidable new talent and a new cultural values system are all coming together to inject fresh energy into the sleepy giant in 2024.


LinkedIn iconx

Your Privacy

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all of these cookies.