Rebecca Marshall


Rebecca Marshall: Leading Essence Mediacom's Odyssey from Detours to Tesco Triumphs

In our ongoing series featuring standout account women, EssenceMediacom's client president shares her insights

By Dani Gibson

There are few better endorsements of a company's culture and of a person's value than when staff who've left end up coming back - and are welcomed back with open arms.

And so it was with Rebecca Marshall, whose two tenures at EssenceMediacom (formerly Mediacom) span over 24 years.

Marshall started out at the agency back in 2000 but moved on in 2007, only to come back in 2010 and has made her professional home there ever since, rising to the role of client president.

And it's easy to see why EssenceMediacom welcomed her back - Marshall is one of the best in the business when it comes to her talent for problem solving and her experience in driving client transformation.

As client president, Marshall oversees a roster that includes Tesco, Richemont, Coca-Cola, and Cancer Research. It's the culmination so far of a career that has already spanned expertise in sectors such as entertainment, automotive, FMCG and retail.

And her elevation to the role coincided with a strategic realignment of EssenceMediacom's leadership, emphasising a fresh commitment to excellence and innovation. So it's fair to say that Marshall's leadership extends beyond client management - she's also a key member of the senior management team, actively contributing to shaping the company's vision and strategy. Additionally, Marshall spearheads initiatives within her business group, driving growth and fostering client relationships with, say colleagues and clients, unwavering dedication.

Kate Rowlinson, CEO at EssenceMediacom, says: "Rebecca is a special talent. Her ability to think expansively, combined with her relentless focus means she can seamlessly identify the big, transformative breakthroughs that make a real difference to our clients' businesses. She has an amazing eye for talent and is passionate about what she does. And she's brilliant fun to be around - which makes working with her all the more enjoyable"

This focus on transformation is more than evident in the work that Marshall delivers – for example the award-winning Tesco turnaround story, which scooped the IPA's effectiveness Grand Prix accolade alongside Tesco's creative agency BBH and .

As she continues to play a pivotal role in guiding EssenceMediacom, Marshall tells us about the need for showing genuine interest in colleagues and building relationships with people - including clients and consumers - to win through.

Tell us about one experience you’ve had as an account person that made you really proud.

One of my proudest moments, most recently, was retaining the Tesco business in a competitive pitch in 2022. At that time, EssenceMediacom had just defined its identity in the market, and we were well-positioned to showcase the innovation it represented - the fusion of two agencies and its benefits for clients. The brief was clear that the winning agency needed to demonstrate how they would help Tesco navigate future facing comms in the light of the next chapter that they had entered as a business. It presented a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our already strong relationship with Tesco and show how we were best placed to future-proof the business. As the incumbent with a long-standing partnership since 2015, there is always a danger that a change of agency might feel required to drive transformation but we were able show how our deep knowledge of the business coupled with our ability to adapt and innovate was the surest way to approach the next chapter.

What’s been the biggest learning you’ve had in your career?

In our line of work, it's all about the people and the relationships we build - be it with our clients, understanding consumers, or collaborating with colleagues to produce best in class work. The most significant lesson I've learned is the value of getting these relationships right. Investing time in truly understanding our clients’ business and how their audience interacts with them not only strengthens your connections but also elevates the quality of your work. Listening to other perspectives and understanding how people operate unlocks the potential for exceptional results. Furthermore, cultivating strong relationships contributes to a more enjoyable and fulfilling working experience, driving both success and satisfaction.

What’s that one skill that the best account people you know have?

There's a lot to consider when it comes to what sets someone apart as a great account person but if I had to choose one thing, I believe it's the ability to empathize and read the room. When you walk into a space, you need to be able to gauge what's happening, what clients are looking for, and the underlying questions they may have.

It's about understanding people and their needs. In my role, particularly as a client lead, this skill is paramount. Understanding what clients truly want to achieve and how to assist them in reaching their goals is key.

What makes for a strong, productive client/agency relationship?

The most fruitful client relationships l've experienced have always been built on mutual respect and trust. Alongside this, openness and honesty play a crucial role. This means being able to provide feedback when necessary, as well as being receptive to it, understanding its origins and how we can use it to improve. Add to this a deep understanding of clients’ motivations and goals both for their business and personally and it becomes possible to build strong strategic and productive partnerships designed for growth - driving great results and success for all.

What advice would you give to people wanting to be a brilliant account person?

Learn from those around you and bring people in – it’s very rare that one person can be brilliant at everything but in my experience people are generally willing to share their expertise when asked. Across WPP, we’re very lucky to have a huge pool of very talented people to draw on for every situation and I’ve certainly benefitted from that in my time here.

Be curious about the world around you and your clients’ wider business. Showing an interest and enthusiasm for what you do takes you a long way and makes for a more enjoyable working day.


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.