Former VCCP Me chief Ben Stephens has grabbed the reins at Stack – the agency which rebranded from CMW last year – succeeding Liz Wilson, who is leaving after four years at the helm.
Set up in 1995, originally as Clark McKay Buckingham – by Jonathan Clark, Janet McKay and Mark Buckingham – the agency was forced into its first rebrand when Buckingham quit after just over 18 months and was replaced by Steve Walpole.
The one-time home of Martin Nieri (now at Partners Andrews Aldridge), Jamie Bell (VCCP me), Bob Nash (WPN Chameleon) and Ben Rachel (Soul), the agency ditched its CMW name and rebranded as Stack in January last year, in a move which bosses said was designed to reflect its wider marketing proposition.
The agency had expanded beyond its DM roots and last year also started offering activation and experiential services but Stephens – who becomes executive chairman – has been briefed to return Stack to its heritage.
The irony of his appointment will not be lost on his former business partner Chris Whitson, who spent three years at the agency as planning director before co-founding Stephens Francis Whitson in 2005 with VCCP. SFW rebranded as VCCP Me in 2013.
Stephens quit the business last year, following his fellow co-founders Whitson and Neil Francis. Since then he has been embracing his love of “country pursuits” as well as working as a freelance.
He started his career in 1989 at FKB Carlson (now Aimia), then had spells at BBH’s direct marketing agency, Limbo, Tequila Payne Stracey, and Rapier.
Peter Reid, the chief executive at parent company MSQ Partners, said: “Stephens is one of the leading lights of the direct industry, and we felt uniquely placed both to drive the next stage in Stack’s development and to exploit the numerous direct and customer opportunities that exist for the agency, both within and outside the group. At the same time, we are all extremely grateful to Liz for her contribution over the past three years and wish her well.”
Wilson, who joined Stack as the chief executive from Albion in 2011, will leave at the end of the month.
CMW axed and rebranded Stack
Ben Stephens set to exit VCCP Me
Chris Whitson calls it a day at VCCP
Bell takes VCCP me creative role
VCCP launches ‘big data’ agency
Conner exits VCCP me for Ogilvy
Francis exits in SFW/Tree link-up
Albion chief succeeds Nieri at CMW