Essence Expands Digital with Broader Leadership

essence christian juhl

Essence has made several strategic appointments to include five new leaders, who will help fulfil its expanded remit as a digital-first agency.

Essence has welcomed a series of new additions to its leadership team. Following GroupM’s commitment to adding offline media capabilities, an expanded footprint, and influx of talent, four of the five newly appointed executives are joining the agency from said international media network.

Built by Global CEO, Christian Juhl (pictured), the expanded unit, responsible for transforming the business into a digital-first full service agency, has been charged with integrating offline capabilities into the agency’s offering, while continuing to look at all media through a data lens.

To that end, Steve Williams has been named CEO of North America, a title he currently holds at Maxus. He has been tasked with driving innovation as well as client and employee satisfaction throughout the region. He previously built OMD UK, and then, moved to the U.S. to lead PHD.

Rob Reifenheiser, current CEO of The Americas, will transition into the newly created role of Executive Director to help win and integrate multi-agency clients across the firm and GroupM. Meanwhile, new CEO of EMEA, Nick Baughan will lead the over 260-strong region and its clients.

Damian Blackden has come on board as Chief Strategy Officer to bridge digital and analogue using Essence’s digital-first techniques. As Global Head of Strategy & Analytics, Simeon Duckworth will drive analytical capability into a fused discipline of cross-channel communication strategy.

Garrick Schmitt has been named Global Director, Experience Design, and is in charge of further bridging the brand’s regional creative teams across North America, EMEA, and APAC. He has already joined the agency; the others will be transitioning into their roles over the coming months.

“We have felt well-supported by GroupM since joining their ranks a year and a half ago. This new infusion of truly top-tier talent into Essence is yet another example of WPP’s ongoing commitment to our success,” said Juhl.