Wunderman Thompson shifts gears with Shamsuddin Jasani as CEO

22 Oct,2021


By Our Staff


It’s been in the works for a bit, but it’s now official. Marketing services conglomerate WPP’s crown jewel Wunderman Thompson has appointed Shamsuddin Jasani as its Chief Executive Officer, South Asia effective November 1.


Jasani, or Shams as he is called, set up Isobar in India in 2008, growing it from a two-person team to over 300-strong across South Asia and part of the Dentsu network. He will report directly to Ewen Sturgeon, CEO, International of Wunderman Thompson. Meanwhile, Tarun Rai, Chairman and Group CEO South Asia will become Executive Director Strategic Initiatives, APAC, effective January 1, 2022. He too will report to Sturgeon.


The change of guard is significant as Wunderman Thompson was formed merging iconic advertising firm J Walter Thompson and Wunderman. If advertising industry veterans were shocked that Wunderman preceded Thompson in the name, Jasani taking charge of the agency is an indicator of the course the bosses want the agency to take. And appointing someone from outside the system is possibly another noteworthy act. Although Rai wasn’t exactly an insider (he worked with The Times of India group as head of World Wide Media publishers of Femina, Filmfare amongst others), he was part of what was JWT not too long ago. Jasani was of course a key member of Dentsu’s leadership team in India and is no stranger to advertising nitty gritty, helming an organisation with an agency of a legacy like JWT is going to be an ask. But those who know Jasani, say he will be able to essay that role with alacrity and take along the gods of the trade within the traditional advertising part of the business. Clearly, WPP wishes to make WT digitally first, and Jasani’s appointment will – if nothing else – help change the perception of the agency.


Said Ewen Sturgeon, CEO, International, Wunderman Thompson on the changes: “We are pleased to have Shams join our Wunderman Thompson leadership, and believe he is the natural successor to continue propelling our South Asia business forward. We would like to thank Tarun for his leadership and efforts as Group CEO of South Asia, and are pleased that Tarun will continue his strategic guidance and support for the agency as he moves on to serve as our APAC Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives.”


Added Shams: “It’s a great honour, but an even greater responsibility, to join such an iconic brand as Wunderman Thompson, with an amazing legacy. I am really excited to not only continue this legacy but to take it to greater heights with the combination of creative, Data, Commerce and Technology. I believe at Wunderman Thompson we have all the ingredients to be the partner of choice for the growth and transformation of brands and business in India.”


And this is what Rai has said in a statement: “The last seven years have been very exciting and rewarding. The unprecedented changes in these years required nimble leadership. I also had the opportunity to lead the transition to our new company, Wunderman Thompson, which has a powerful mix of creativity and technology. I am extremely proud of our people and of our leadership team for their fantastic work through these years. We partner with some of the best clients in the industry and I value their friendship and support. I now look forward to stepping into my new role in an expanded geography.”



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