New GroupM North America CEO downplays industry consolidation

Tim Castree named GroupM North America CEO

GroupM North America’s new chief executive believes we’re dealing with “tectonic change” in the advertising industry, but that doesn’t mean there should be cause for alarm.

Tim Castree emerged as global CEO of Wavemaker to steady the ship after MEC and Maxus merged. On Wednesday (12 December) he was named CEO of GroupM North America, right as its holding company WPP sets off on a new company direction.

“I believe wholeheartedly in Mark [Read’s] vision for where he's taking WPP, and I respect both the clarity of his vision and his directness and honesty about this being a journey we're on over the coming years. There are no silver bullets in our business. We win and grow by being excellent every day, simplifying everyday through the aggregation of marginal gains in terms of our improvement,” Castree told The Drum.

WPP has recently merged Y&R with digital agency VML to form VMLY&R, and J Walter Thompson with Wunderman to create Wunderman Thompson.

“I do know for certain in the GroupM world, and I believe within the WPP world, there are no further mergers planned,” said Castree.

Industry shakeups aside, Castree said GroupM will be focused on simplifying its North American business to increase its client centricity.

“It's not that we don't care passionately about our clients, but part of simplifying is to make it easier for them to access all of their capabilities, skills, technology, talent data that we have that can help them grow their businesses. The simplification of our business is really about enabling our clients to have more effective relationships with us.

“Obviously we're all dealing with ongoing tectonic change and excitement. We want to step into that and continue to accelerate the role we play in business more broadly,” Castree said.

Castree added that part of that simplification involves renewing a sense of belief in cross-channel planning and activation.

“Fragmentation has an impact in terms of aggregate return on investment. I think we haven't done a good enough job as an industry of describing the benefits of that to clients.

“The more they slice and dice and carve bits off, the harder it gets to drive ROI through holistic planning and optimization. We [want to] make sure we have a simpler operational setup so clients can access that more seamlessly and start to feel less tempted to slice off various parts of the media service offering because they see that we have both the capability and can prove the effectiveness of integrated holistic media management,” Castree said.

Castree will continue to work with Wavemaker leadership while the agency searches for his replacement.

Before joining GroupM, Castree made stops at Videology and Publicis Group’s MediaVest.

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