Vineet Mehra

Tim Castree

Tim Castree

Purposeful Marketing


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Trendsetters: Tim Castree's New Realism as CEO of Recently-Named Wavemaker is Driving Change

Tim Castree is a realist with a vision.  While such a description may seem contradictory, it's quickly apparent that he's able to balance a results-oriented nature with his constant eye toward future transformation.  As Global CEO of Wavemaker, the new billion-dollar revenue media content and technology agency resulting from the recently merged GroupM media agencies MEC and Maxus, he is driven by what may be termed as enlightened simplicity—to focus on what matters most, while seeking to make a distinctive difference.

The Melbourne, Australia native has already made headlines by admitting that "foundational media planning and buying is a commodity." To some, he may be merely stating the obvious, but he does so to reprioritize the unique aspects of media agencies.  Tim Castree believes that areas like customer purchase journey insight, content, data, analytics and eCommerce are the "secret sauce" components that will reinvent the media agency to be more valuable and relevant to clients.

Without question, media agencies are facing the dual forces of great change and tremendous pressure.  The list of challenges is long and varied—from continued channel and audience fragmentation, including more platforms that are not ad-supported to the further consequences of transparency issues and programmatic trading. He goes on to speak about the aggressive strategies of management consulting companies; how the digital supply chain is corrupted by "walled gardens"; the rise and rise of Google, Facebook and Alibaba; brand safety consequences as well as the cost and KPI-focus of clients' marketing procurement teams.   

While Tim Castree knows he's operating in a "hotly contested time" where business-as-usual is a thing of the past, he also believes that agencies should be investing in their own innovative "products" or those value-added services that will meet their clients' goals and distinguish their own agency brand.  Once considered add-ons to media planning and buying, those services that bring data, creativity and platforms together, will become the critical and distinctive core in his view—particularly when leveraged at scale to help clients make better decisions.

Ever the realist, Tim Castree assumes that client cost pressures will only continue.  He also knows that budget cuts rarely bring better outcomes.  Media agencies, he believes, need to use technology and data to better understand how their investments are driving growth for brands.  

Wavemaker's approach is its obsession with the purchase journey.  Using WM Momentum, the agency's unique purchase journey survey of over 350,000 people on 65 product categories in 35 markets, gives Wavemaker an unprecedented view of a single customer's purchase journey insight that can bring clarity and confidence to the choice of actions a brand should take to grow. 

CMOs need a partner to navigate the complexity of today's landscape. They need a more open, agile and data connected agency offer committed to making bold choices for the future.  According to Castree, "We know that we can have a big impact when we bring media, content and technology together, activated against our purchase journey understanding for the brands we represent.  This understanding leads to better outcomes for our clients and more shared growth.  Our product roadmap is principally concerned with enabling, deepening, and scaling this purchase journey obsession." He believes that the most important task marketers face is understanding audience behavior and the purchase journey a consumer takes when choosing brands and services.  "To best influence a purchase, first you must know how that person arrived at their decision then you must bring light and insight into the best intervention points to drive the greatest return."

And while encouraging such innovation, Tim Castree has another mission: client-centricity.  He stresses the need to refocus on the client relationship and the need to always put client needs and interests first.  He adds, "Our organizational capabilities and specialisms, and the talents of our 8,500 people are all applied to accelerate purchase journeys for our clients. This simultaneously creates organizational focus for our people and simplicity for our clients."

Tim Castree is based in New York and reports to GroupM's Global CEO, Kelly Clark. He works with Wavemaker's global leadership team to implement the vision and strategy for client service excellence, product development and business growth. 

Announced in June, MEC and Maxus (two sister GroupM agencies) are merging to create a new billion dollar revenue media agency called Wavemaker. From the outset, Wavemaker is a top 3 global media network, with over 8,500 people, $38Bn in billings and 139 offices in 90 countries.  Wavemaker will provide existing and prospective clients with even greater resources and expertise across the world. As a full-service media, content and technology agency, Wavemaker provides holistic media and marketing solutions to solve marketers' biggest challenges. 

Castree brings more than 20 years of experience to his new role, spanning creative, media and digital agencies.  Tim served most recently as Managing Director of Videology in North America, where he created innovative programmatic video solutions for agencies, clients and media companies. Before joining Videology, he was USA Chief Operating Officer for Publicis Group's Mediavest where he led work for major clients including American Honda Motor Company, Mondelēz, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Sprint. Previously he was Global Managing Director for Starcom MediaVest Group, where he led their global P&G engagement spanning 70 countries. He began his career with Leo Burnett in Melbourne, Australia and subsequently held roles with FCB, Ogilvy, and BBH.