Cootes ditches Lida to take on top role at Digitas UK

In with the new: Holt, Cootes, de la Fosse, Hughes, Bassil, Doherty and Blandford

Changing of the guard at Digitas UK (l-r): Holt, Cootes, de la Fosse, Hughes, Bassil, Doherty and Blandford

Publicis-owned Digitas UK has completed the line-up of its new management team following last year’s top-level exodus, by appointing Lida’s chief operating officer Claire Cootes as managing director.

Cootes has been at Lida since 2013, where she has led the O2 account and helped steady the ship following the departures of both chief executive Victoria Fox and chairman Matthew Heath.

Digitas has suffered similar “turbulence” following a restructure, with a number of senior executives jumping ship, including chief executive Michael Islip, managing director Matt Steward, chief creative officer Chris Clarke and chief strategy officer Fern Miller.

At Digitas, Cootes will report to new CEO Danielle Bassil and lead the day to day running of the agency. She will also be responsible for building Digitas’ client services team and growing its CRM proposition.

In addition to Cootes’ appointment, Paul Doherty has been promoted to managing partner, leading on the agency’s growth strategies, after nearly 10 years at the agency.

Meanwhile, Owen Hughes has been appointed chief operating officer. He was previously Digitas’ commercial director for five years before taking on the role of group commercial director of Publicis Groupe in early 2019.

The new arrivals join the existing leadership team of chief creative officer Emma de la Fosse, chief strategy officer Matt Holt, and chief product officer Rafe Blandford.

The agency insists that the executive leadership team will have a continued focus on what it calls “creating connected experiences that bring brands to life”.

Bassil said: “They say you should surround yourself with people better and smarter than you. No better case in point than Claire and this whole team. They are absolutely world class.”

Cootes, who has also worked at Ogilvy and Iris, said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Digitas and to get the opportunity to build on what is already a great agency with incredible talent and the unique ability to combine technology, media, data and creative expertise.”

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