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News 30 Sep 2021 - 1 min read

AKQA Media folds into GroupM's Essence, Pat Crowley named CEO

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

GroupM has signalled its intent to build out Essence in Australia, folding AKQA Media into the company's network. CBA account lead for WPP, Pat Crowley will assume the role of CEO, as long-serving Ikon boss Lesley Edwards departs.

What you need to know:

  • GroupM is folding AKQA Media into Essence.
  • Pat Crowley has been named CEO, while former Ikon boss Lesley Edwards will exit.
  • The move signals the first shift of an agency from the former WPP AUNZ business to GroupM.

Pat Crowley has been named the first CEO of Essence in Australia, with AKQA Media (formerly Ikon) folding into the GroupM agency.

As a result of the decision, Ikon Australia's long-serving boss Lesley Edwards will leave the business.

The change has been made following the global buyout and subsequent delisting of the WPP AUNZ business. 

Earlier this year, Ikon was merged into the AKQA Media business, however, the global alignment with London HQ now allows the former WPP AUNZ business to transition into its media investment arm, GroupM.

Bringing AKQA Media into Essence brings expanded capabilities in digital strategy, data and analytics, SEO CRO, social media, creative and content.

The transition will take effect from 1 Jan 2022. The combined agency will operate as Essence with 250 people across three offices in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Mi3 had previously reported interest in growing the Essence business locally, with Global CEO for GroupM Christian Juhl known for being the architect behind the agency's acquisition by WPP in 2015.

Crowley will work alongside Essence leadership team James Graver, Brett Carson, Anna Colnan, Katie-Lynn Guerrero, Jamarr Mills and Sid Nair.

The new Essence boss has a WPP stalwart, joining the Ikon business in 2002 to work on the CBA account which he has been leading for the past 16 years. He ran the Ikon Sydney office for seven years, before stepping back three years ago to focus solely on CommBank.

"We’re taking the best capability from within AKQA Media and Essence, supercharging it with the power and scale that comes with the global GroupM network. I’m super excited by what we will be able to create together in this market as part of the globally renowned digital and data focused Essence network," Crowley said.

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