the showcase 2023
EssenceMediacom: Surging into a New Era
EMC is at the start of its journey with a fresh agency, driven leadership, and a collection of over 90 global awards
EssenceMediacom emerged as a force to be reckoned with in 2023, a year marked by transformative successes and dynamic growth. The fusion of Mediacom and Essence, under the leadership of CEO Kate Rowlinson and global CEO Nick Lawson, propelled the agency to a commanding presence across 120 offices in 96 markets.
Here Rowlinson tells us more about the year that was, and what's to come.
Kate Rowlinson, CEO, EssenceMediacom
What three words would you use to describe 2023?
Energising. Educating. Galvanising.
Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?
Launching EessenceMediacom in itself has to be the major highlight. It’s not every day you get to create a new agency and take it to market!
But it was incredible to start out the year by winning the Flutter business and consolidating all of their brands into EssenceMediacom, including the Skybet business. We also grew our relationship with Sofology, taking on their digital scope and renewed long standing partnerships with many of our clients, including Cancer Research UK and DFS.
It has been wonderful to see so much of our work recognised in awards – we have won 94 so far this year which is absolutely incredible and a testament to the talent and ambition we have across our business. To win a Grand Prix in WARC’s global effectiveness awards for our work with eBay and ITV’s Love Island was a major highlight.
We’ve brought in exciting new talent - adding Co-Chief Strategy Officer Rich Kirk and Chief Media Solutions Officer Tom Wigley; and we’ve seen so many of our people awarded in their own right from 40 Over 40 to the WACL Talent Awards and Media Leader Future 100 Club. We also created a new Senior Leadership Team with a raft of internal promotions. It’s been a super year on the people front.
What one thing are you proudest of this year?
Agency wise, winning Agency Partner of the Year, voted for by media owners, at the MediaWeek awards. So many people across the agency contribute to this win.
For me personally, it has been an honour to advocate for midlife women in our industry in my role leading the menopause committee within WACL. This October, we launched our new open-source menopause policy and asked the entire industry to download, adopt and educate around it. The response we saw was phenomenal, with men and women alike showing eagerness to understand how their businesses can encourage women experiencing the menopause to stay in the workplace.
And what’s been your biggest challenge?
Since we launched EssenceMediacom in January, we have worked to ensure our people embrace the new agency as well as our new capabilities, products and tools. Crucially, we needed to change mindsets and ensure all our work has been focused on delivering breakthroughs for brands. From our Breakthrough Expos, sessions that upskill and educate our people around the new agency tools and capability, to our Breakthrough Accelerator Programme which challenges how we do things in a series of events and workshops, everything has been focused on people and learning. Bringing people on board is always the biggest challenge in change management. Luckily, our people have shown once again why they’re the best in the business - rising to the challenge and embracing our new breakthrough approach.
What are you most looking forward to in 2024?
We have been refining our Breakthrough proposition so I’m excited to take this to market. And we have some exciting new research findings to share with our clients and the industry around a new take on the impact of different media channels.
What one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?
Let’s face it, our industry needs more than one change. But if we start to see better menopause policies across the industry, I’ll be thrilled that WACL’s efforts have borne fruit.
Which industry leader have you admired most in 2024?
Nishma Patel Robb – she is making such a positive impact at WACL with humility, humour and integrity.
Creative Salon on EssenceMediacom's 2023
2023 brought forth a transformative alliance between Mediacom and Essence, giving rise to EssenceMediacom—a global media powerhouse with a commanding presence of 10,000 professionals across 120 offices in 96 markets, led by the visionary Global CEO Nick Lawson. At the UK helm, Kate Rowlinson - alongside COO Satin Reid, Chief Client Officer Claudine Collins, and joint CSOs Geoff De Burca and Richard Kirk - leads a dynamic team, combining diverse expertise and strategic vision to drive innovation and success within the organisation.
EMC witnessed significant changes in personnel, including the recruitment of Kirk from Zenith and promotion Frances Ralston-Good to global chief operating officer. The promotion of Satin Reid to chief operating officer in the UK further underscores the agency's commitment to leveraging untapped client data for distinctiveness and differentiation.
The senior leadership promotions highlight key figures such as Sonya Arthur, Becca Marshall, Nigel Robinson, Catherine Pronzato, Dan Wood, Jane Christian, and Owain Wilson, who have assumed pivotal roles in driving the agency's growth and fostering innovation.
Amidst these changes, the agency notched up significant wins, expanding its digital footprint with Sofology's £4m digital channel spend, aligning with the agency's digital-centric strategy. The agency's success streak continued with contract renewals and victories for clients such as Flutter Entertainment, Sky Bet, DFS, Cancer Research UK, eBay, and Sony PlayStation.
Internationally, EssenceMediacom's Mental Health Allies initiative gained accolades at the UK's Make A Difference Awards, winning for Best Multinational Implementation of a Workplace Wellbeing Program. This initiative, launched in the UK in 2017 and extended globally in 2021, underscores the agency's commitment to employee well-being and mental health awareness.
The agency's involvement in impactful campaigns such as Sky Bet's 3D advertising at Wembley and Google Pixel's cinema takeover demonstrates its prowess in navigating the ever-evolving communications landscape. The agency's active role in championing causes, including support for the LGBT+ community and collaborations with Coca-Cola on innovative digital campaigns, showcases its commitment to socially relevant and creative endeavors.
EMC published reports such as "The Future is Prediction," where Owain Wilson emphasised the strategic use of owned data for a competitive edge. The UK Gender Pay Gap Report for 2022 detailed a consolidated median pay gap of 9.5% and mean pay gap of 22.7%, showcasing the agency's commitment to transparency and ongoing initiatives to address gender pay gaps within its organisational structure.
Looking ahead to 2024, EssenceMediacom braces for change as WPP's Group M initiates a significant shift in its operational model. Departing from the tradition of managing individual budgets, the agency faces a transition to a country-by-country allocation of resources and budgets. This strategic move, part of Group M's restructuring under the leadership of global CEO Christian Juhl, aims to afford agency heads more time for strategic initiatives and operational efficiencies, while maintaining a focus on client growth and profitability.
Creative Salon Says: EssenceMediacom's 2023 was a year of dynamic growth and transformative success, marked by the launch of the new agency and key business wins. With 94 awards, including a Grand Prix in WARC's global effectiveness awards, the agency showcased its creative prowess and strategic effectiveness. EssenceMediacom's commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and advocacy positions it as a formidable force in the evolving media landscape. More importantly, perhaps, the agency has accomplished this hugely successful transition year with its supportive and nurturing people-first culture intact. What a great place from which to spring into 2024.