Iris Worldwide has created DM agency-land’s “oldest gang in town” by hiring Mike Cornwell, Chris Whitson, Simon Spyer and Jason Andrews – who have spent a combined 103 years in the industry – to launch a dedicated CRM division, which will also work as a standalone agency in its own right.
Cornwell, “the suit”, has been chairman of performance marketing company Ladder for the past two years. Prior to that he was chief executive of the IDM, having succeeded founder Professor Derek Holder, who passed away in 2012. He has also been boss of some of biggest DM agencies in the UK, including MRM London, Joshua G2, TBWA/GGT, GGT Direct, and O&M Direct.
For “strategy man” Whitson, the move represents a volte-face, having exited MRM Meteorite just four months ago to focus on “new projects”. Since leaving his role as joint chief executive and chief strategy officer in June, Whitson has been working at MW London – a strategic marketing consultancy set up by his wife, Liz Whitson.
Chris Whitson has worked at GGT Direct – where he first met Cornwell – as well as Bates, Rapier and Clark McKay Walpole. He then joined forces with Ben Stephens and Neil Francis to form Stephens Francis Whitson, now VCCP Me.
“Data man” Spyer started his career client-side working at Sainsbury’s and Campbell Soup before joining Quant Marketing as a consultant, eventually becoming chief strategy officer. He had a spell at VCCP Me and then co-founded Conduit Data Services within the VCCP Partnership in 2012, where he was partner and principal consultant.
Finally, creative chief Jason Andrews, who only joined Communicator in July, makes up the foursome. The former Rapp executive creative director has also worked at Geronimo, tech start-up eMortal and was one of the co-founders of Personal. Andrews has also worked at FCB Sydney and Proximity.
They will report directly to managing director Chris Marlow and working closely with Sally Taplin, managing director of management consultancy Iris Concise.
Steve Bell, deputy chief executive global at Iris, said: “Now is not the time for brands to compromise. As they face the squeeze from competitors and challenges in the economic environment, we want to be able to give our clients more choice, more clarity and more confidence.
“We want them to access the highest quality of people and output in creative, branding, innovation, pricing, digital, and CRM to deliver a product that adds up to something that is far more valuable than the sum of its parts.”
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