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Merkle Appoints Craig Dempster as Global CEO

Advertising Agency
New York, USA
Current CEO David Williams to focus on role as Global CEO/CRM line of business for Dentsu Aegis Network

Merkle, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven performance marketing agency, today announced the appointment of Craig Dempster to global CEO effective 1st June 2020. A Merkle veteran, Dempster has held the role of president of Merkle Americas since 2017, overseeing the organisation’s many service lines, including customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise technology, data, analytics, performance media, user experience, performance creative, promotion and loyalty solutions, and customer strategy consulting.

David Williams, chairman and CEO of Merkle for more than 32 years, will remain chairman of Merkle while retaining his role as CEO, Global CRM Group for Dentsu Aegis Network and chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network Americas. Under Williams’s leadership, Merkle has grown from $2.5 million in revenue to more than $1 billion in revenue annually and become a truly global business. He oversaw the company’s sale to Dentsu in 2016 and its integration over the past 4 years. Purpose built for the digital age, Dentsu has focused on acquiring relevant, high-performance businesses globally in high-growth areas, including data, brand commerce, customer experience, performance marketing, social, and mobile.

Dempster’s appointment comes at a time of major disruption in marketing, with a changing regulatory environment and the decline of third-party cookies causing a heightened focus on first-party data. These pressures, coupled with the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, have brands looking to experienced marketing services providers to help them navigate through the uncertainties they are facing and adjust their marketing strategies to deliver the total customer experience – from marketing to sales to service. Dempster’s deep leadership experience and tenure with Merkle equips him to take the helm to lead the company and its clients through this new normal.

As global CEO of Merkle, Dempster will oversee the entire organisation of more than 9,600 employees in 13 countries, including its most recent acquisitions, Media Storm, Digital Pi, and 4Cite. Dempster will focus on enhancing Merkle’s already strong commitment to its technologies and client base, placing an emphasis on marketing excellence, ownership of identity, and the total customer experience. Additionally, Dempster will assume responsibility for leading Dentsu Aegis Network brands within the CRM line of business (LOB), notably 360i, gyro, and Cardinal Path, to deliver world-class marketing and integrated solutions that are data driven, tech enabled, and ideas led.

“Craig has been a crucial leader in the success we’ve seen with Merkle over the past 14 years, and I’m confident in his ability to lead our employees and clients through this time of disruption and into the future,” says Williams. “I cannot think of a person more qualified and deserving of the position. Merkle has amplified its presence across the industry, becoming a leader in innovation, and Craig will continue to meet and surpass our business goals as we set our sights on becoming a multi-billion-dollar global leader in data-driven, tech-enabled, people-based customer experiences."

Dempster’s appointment follows a successful 2019, with Merkle implementing an influx of new platforms and technologies, including the New Stream Media and Archie solutions. The company also reported an 21.2% increase in revenue, with expansion into new markets and the addition of more than 220 new clients. Additionally, Merkle added 3,700 employees globally, most notably with its recent addition of 2,500 data scientists as part of the acquisition of Ugam.

“For the past 14 years, I have been proud to be a part of a company that is constantly pushing the boundaries of data-driven performance marketing. And Dentsu is pushing its own boundaries, opening strong growth opportunities as we bring together our combined strengths to deliver truly integrated marketing solutions for our clients,” said Dempster. “I am honoured to take on the role of global CEO of Merkle, and accepting the reins from a CEO of David Williams’s calibre makes it all the more rewarding. He is a visionary leader who has dedicated 32 years of his life to this industry and to making Merkle the great company it is today. His are big shoes to fill, and I am immensely grateful for his mentorship, his friendship, and the trust he has placed in me. I look forward to working with the strong, seasoned group of executive leaders that we have assembled and with the entire Merkle team, serving as a valued partner to our clients.”

Dempster has been a part of Merkle’s executive leadership team since joining the company in 2006. Under Williams’s mentorship and as a direct report for more than ten years, he has played an integral role in driving the company’s growth and profitability in the Americas, which represents 80% of Merkle’s annual revenue globally. He has played a key role in building the company’s relationships with flagship brands such as AT&T, GEICO, Citizens, and AARP. Prior to his role as president of Merkle Americas, Dempster held executive roles spanning across the business, which have prepared him for the broad responsibilities of global CEO. As global agency services lead, his team delivered integrated performance media agency services across media and platforms.

Previously, as chief marketing officer, he was responsible for driving corporate strategy, repositioning the company as a CRM agency and establishing the marketing communications, PR, and events organisations. Dempster originally joined Merkle as head of its data and analytics business. Throughout the past decade, Dempster spearheaded the company’s expansion in the Americas and Europe by championing more than a dozen acquisitions.

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