Mike Welsh, the self-styled Johnny Rotten of DM agencyland, has stepped down from his role as chief executive of Publicis Chemistry, six and a half years after first joining the business.
In a classic case of Never Mind the Bollocks, some sections of the trade press have suggested Welsh had been pushed due to the sudden nature of the move; staff were informed at 5pm on Friday. It is also no secret that it has been a tough year for the agency.
However, sources claim the decision is entirely amicable; Welsh has been planning to take a step back from running the agency for a while, although had to wait until a succession management plan could be put in place.
During the coming months, it is understood Welsh will hand over control of Publicis Chemistry to Emma Rush, who joined the agency last week as client services director. She has previously run both Baber Smith and the now-defunct TBCH. Welsh will remain in a consultative role, before seeking other consulting or contract work.
A classic Marmite man, Welsh first came to prominence at Claydon Heeley, the agency which waged a “punk”-style war on its rivals, causing mayhem among the establishment under the premise of “no-one likes us but we don’t care”.
In May 2008, he then switched to Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, an agency that, unbeknown to Welsh, was in financial straits. It is said that his suspicions were only raised on his first day after one of its directors introduced him to staff as “the numerative Mike Welsh”, as if that were a put-down.
Within weeks the agency’s finances were laid bare and just six months into Welsh’s tenure Craik Jones was folded into Proximity; he was lured by his old Claydon Heeley boss Nigel Jones to take charge at Publicis Dialog.
When Publicis bought Chemistry to form Publicis Chemistry in January 2011, the existing management team of Joe Garton and Diane Charlton came with it, and Welsh moved aside to the Renault account. But Garton and Charlton quit in 2012, opening the door for Welsh to return as chief executive, where he has been ever since.
Welsh was not available for comment on his departure.
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