NEW YORK, January 12, 2023 – BCW, the leading global communications agency, today announced that Global CEO Donna Imperato will retire as its Chief Executive during 2023 and will step down once her successor is appointed. Donna will work with Mark Read, the CEO of WPP, to identify a new leader for the BCW Group and ensure a smooth transition. At that point, she will also step down from the Executive Committee of WPP.
“After 25 years of service to WPP and partnership with my incredible leadership teams over the years, I have decided it is time for a change,” said Imperato. “My goal and commitment over the past five years in leading the merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to form BCW was to build one of the largest and best public relations/integrated communications agencies in the world. Having accomplished this, I will be leaving BCW in excellent shape and with a fantastic leadership team.”
As CEO of BCW Group, Imperato oversaw BCW, the world’s third-largest public relations agency; AxiCom, WPP’s specialist technology PR agency; Direct Impact, a grassroots and advocacy agency; GCI Health, a global healthcare integrated communications agency; HZ, an integrated creative agency; and Prime Policy Group, a public affairs and public policy consultancy.
Under Imperato’s leadership, BCW was named 2020 Global Agency of the Year by PRovoke Media, and was ranked number one atop PRovoke’s Global Creative Index that same year. In 2021, PRovoke named BCW’s work for Lenovo the Best Campaign in the World at the Global SABRE Awards, the first campaign from Asia-Pacific to take that honor.
Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said, “Donna has made a huge contribution to WPP as the driving force behind the success of Cohn & Wolfe and now BCW. The many awards and accolades, culminating in her induction into the PRWeek ‘Hall of Fame,’ speak to her achievements in a long and distinguished career. We are very grateful for Donna’s leadership over many years and wish her all the best for the future.”
Before leading BCW, Imperato served for 15 years as CEO of Cohn & Wolfe, driving the evolution of the agency from a revered boutique to a renowned international powerhouse. She led the firm through five successive years of double-digit growth between 2014 and 2018. Under her leadership, Cohn & Wolfe was named 2018 Global Agency of the Year by PRovoke Media. Other awards included PRWeek’s Agency of the Year, The Holmes Report’s North America Large Agency of the Year, EMEA Creative PR Consultancy of the Year and Southeast Asia Consultancy of the Year. Cohn & Wolfe also had been listed consistently as a “Best Place to Work” by The Holmes Report, PRWeek, Crain’s NY, Advertising Age and PRNews.
In December 2022, Imperato was inducted into the PRWeek “Hall of Fame.” In 2018, she took the top spot on PRWeek’s “Power 50 List,” an annual ranking of the top 50 marketing and communications professionals in the U.S. from across the agency and client worlds. She was included in the 2016 inaugural class of PRWeek’s “Women of Distinction,” which honors female industry leaders who “challenge the status quo, push for the big idea, and strive to make a difference.” In 2013, she was awarded the SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement, and in 2009, she was inducted into the PRNews Hall of Fame.
“It has been an absolute privilege to lead Cohn & Wolfe and BCW and to partner with the most talented leaders in our industry – both colleagues and clients,” Imperato added. “I will greatly miss working with my team on a daily basis once I move on, but we will always be good friends.”