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VML South Africa announces Jarred Cinman as CEO

Jarred Cinman has been named as CEO of VML South Africa. Working alongside Cinman will be Diane Wilson who has been named VML’s Chief Operations Officer.

A leader in South Africa’s agency landscape for three decades, Cinman has been at the forefront of digital evolution in the industry, having started and led South Africa’s first digital agency in the 1990s. Wilson joined shortly thereafter, and their 27-year partnership has seen them co-found and lead Cambrient and then Native, which ultimately became VMLY&R South Africa. They have been co-CEOs of this business for the past five years.

Under Wilson and Cinman’s leadership, VMLY&R South Africa won heavy-hitting accounts, such as Vodacom, as well as numerous awards, both locally and internationally – including two silver Effie Awards, Seven Smarties Awards (six of them gold), and Agency of the Year at the New Generation Awards in 2023, as well as three Effie Awards plus four Cannes Lions Awards in 2022.

In October last year WPP announced a major evolution in its offering to clients with the global merger of Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R. Operational from 1 January 2024, the combined entity, known as VML, will be the industry’s largest creative company and has entered the South African market with offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

VML South Africa’s clients include leading brands such as Vodacom, Standard Bank, BMW, Nestlé, Unilever, Hollard, Nando’s and SA Tourism, among many others.

Powerful leadership team

Cinman will report to Ewen Sturgeon, CEO, VML EMEA. On the appointment, Sturgeon commented, ‘I am absolutely delighted that Jarred and Di will be leading the VML brand in South Africa. Their client-centric focus, inclusive leadership style and forward-thinking approach to innovation and technology will ensure we create a thriving business and that our clients are offered the very best across Brand Experience, Customer Experience and Commerce.’

Fran Luckin has become Chief Creative Officer and Tebogo Skwambane, who also holds the position of WPP Country Manager for South Africa, is announced as Executive Chairperson. Avron Berkman will become Chief Finance Officer for the business.

Miles Murphy, CEO of Wunderman Thompson South Africa, decided to use the opportunity of the merger with VMLY&R to move on to the next stage of his professional career. Miles had a tremendous impact on Wunderman Thompson over the last four years but has stepped down from his role as CEO and left the business in early January.

Looking ahead

VML will be equipped to support clients on creative brand growth strategy and transformation initiatives, all powered by best-in-class data operations, technology platforms and partnerships with leading technology companies. It will also provide an exceptional offer for healthcare companies and B2B marketers. 

On his appointment and the next steps for the business, Cinman said, ‘It’s a great honour to be able to lead such an ambitious, skilled and technologically savvy new agency. Along with Di and the rest of the leadership team, we have an ambition to be the best agency on the continent – period. That means rising to the top of the creative rankings, delivering the most effective work and making culturally resonant and purposeful communication, commerce and experiences. I really believe that the new VML has everything clients want and need from a creative partner.’

Wilson added, ‘Our first big investment is in people and we are thrilled to welcome Fran Luckin as our new CCO. Creativity is a product of talent and experience, and Fran has the perfect combination of these qualities. With her leading our creative teams, I’m looking forward to seeing VML shine brightly in the creative advertising space.’

She continued, ‘Tebogo Skwambane, who established the WPP country manager office in South Africa (and continues to hold that role) brings a wealth of knowledge in organisational design, integration and commercial acumen. Her background in consulting will be key to helping us build our new organisation and operating model, and she will play an active and vital role as we define our path ahead.’

Cinman concluded, ‘The secret to successful integration is bringing together the right calibre of leaders and focusing on the right things. We have, between the two legacy businesses, many of the best people in the industry on our team and our focus is on our culture, our clients and the work. This is a chance to level up for both organisations and there is a palpable sense of possibility in the corridors.’

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