Havas Helia boss Tash Whitmey is following a path first trodden by Matt Atkinson by leaving the agency to join Tesco to head up the Clubcard scheme as loyalty and membership director.
Helia’s relationship with Tesco is one of the strongest in the business. Back in 1993, as Evans Hunt Scott, the agency played a key part in the development of Clubcard under the then marketing manager Grant Harrison, who also appointed DunnHumby. The scheme was eventually rolled out in 1995, following trials, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Since then, the agency has gone through many guises, including EHS Brann, EHS Brann Discovery, EHS Realtime, EHS 4D and Havas EHS before rebranding as Havas Helia in 2015. However, the agency has retained its vice-like grip on the Tesco business, despite numerous attempts by other agencies to woo Tesco chiefs.
Whitmey joined Helia in 2002, having started her career at ICD, the data business run by Lionel and Greg Thain. She has been CEO since succeeding Atkinson, who landed the role of group marketing and digital officer at Tesco in June 2011.
Atkinson was promoted to chief marketing officer 18 months later, although the role was axed in December 2014. However, he continued to work for the retailer on a consultancy basis but joined Saga in 2015. Atkinson recently joined Co-op to head up its membership operation.
Helia has yet to reveal whether it will directly replace Whitmey, who is also in charge of Field Day – the agency formed from the merger of AIS London and Arnold KLP.
Havas UK chairman and CEO of Europe Chris Hirst said: “When the opportunity arose to lead the UK’s original loyalty scheme, we couldn’t stand in Tash’s way.
“While we are hugely disappointed to see her leave, it’s a brilliant opportunity for her and we’re equally excited to have her as a client. We’ll be working with Tash and her team over the coming weeks to ensure a smooth handover, as well as the right shape for the Helia business moving forward.”
Whitmey takes up her new role in January.
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