Former VMLY&R chief to lead VML creative in the UK

McManusVML has appointed a new UK chief creative officer to spearhead and build the agency’s 250+ creative team, reporting directly to UK CEO Pip Hulbert and global chief creative officer Debbi Vandeven.

Ryan McManus joins from his role as chief creative officer for North America, where he led creative for one of WPP’s largest clients, Ford, as well as leading on Virgin Voyages, Miami Tourism and BIC.

During his time there, McManus worked on the launch of the Blue-Cruise campaign for Ford and Jen AI, an AI version of Jennifer Lopez for Virgin Voyages which amassed over two billion earned media impressions.

Before that, he was chief creative officer at VMLY&R South Africa for five years, where he oversaw the merger of VML and Y&R to a full-service integrated agency.

McManus effectively succeeds Steve Aldridge, who quit Wunderman Thompson in the wake of its merger with VMLY&R to create VML in October last year, and VMLY&R chief creative officer Laurent Simon who left a few days later.

McManus is said to be a multidisciplinary creative with a media-agnostic approach. His work has won “hundreds of awards” across almost every global award show, including Gold Cannes Lions, D&AD, NYF, One Show, ADC, and Loeries, and he’s been a regular judge at global award shows, including Cannes Lions.

While Wunderman chiefs – including Mel Edwards – took many of the top roles when the agency merged with J Walter Thompson in 2018, McManus’ appointment sees yet another senior role going to a former VMLY&R chief.

Pip Hulbert said: “I had the pleasure to meet a lot of people on my search for this role, but for me, Ryan stood out as a new breed of creative leader. He’s truly unique, having a diverse background and in-depth knowledge across AI and technology.

“He doesn’t fit a mould. Ryan is one of the few people who has the capability to define a new era of creative heights. He comes bursting with energy and enthusiasm for the work and his entrepreneurial spirt is infectious. Exciting times ahead.”

Debbi Vandeven added, “With his track record of driving instrumental work for leading clients globally, Ryan is poised to make a significant impact across our UK business. Our UK agency is a key market with great momentum, and Ryan’s leadership and expertise promise to foster further innovation and imagination in our creative. His arrival comes at a pivotal time as we celebrate the UK’s first Grand Prix in the Clios and I have no doubt we will have even more to celebrate in the months and years ahead.”

McManus concluded: “From the moment I met the UK team I was blown away with the level of creative talent and depth of capabilities. To me, the UK is a candy store of incredible future-facing skills that can truly serve the bespoke needs of our clients. I can’t wait to be a part of the alchemy and guide the creative department to make outstanding work that drives meaningful change. London, here I come!”

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