London-based Essence has promoted Christian Juhl, previously in charge of its North American operations, to run the company as global CEO. With his promotion, founder and previous CEO Matt Isaacs becomes executive chairman.
Essence was founded in 2005, but has scaled up dramatically in the past few years through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions. It acquired social agency Punktilio in May 2011, San Francisco's Black Bag Advertising in September 2012 and Seattle mobile agency Point Reach in January 2013. Today Essence employs about 450 people globally, more than double its headcount at the beginning of last year.
The agency has made a big bet on data science and programmatic buying, investing in talent to fuel these areas. Earlier this month it hired Oscar Garza, formerly of Electronic Arts, to drive automated buying activities in North America.
The transition seems to have been in the works for some time.
Juhl joined Essence just seven months ago from Razorfish, where he was president of the West region. He will remain based in San Francisco, close to Essence's largest customer, Google. Meanwhile two other founding partners will take on new roles and return to the London home base. Andrew Shebbeare, previously chief strategist, becomes global innovation director, and CIO Andy Bonsall becomes "executive consultant." Both will return to London this year.
Juhl's priorities as CEO include building a broader client base so Essence is less reliant on Google. Recent agency-of-record assignments include Method Home and casino games developer DoubleDown Interactive. The company manages a total of $500 million in media spend.
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