Renata Maia has left IPG Health’s Area 23 to become global chief creative officer at Wunderman Thompson Health, a new role.

Maia, previously EVP/group creative director at Area 23, will report to Patrick Wisnom, global CEO of Wunderman Thompson Health, as well as to two global CCOs at mainstream shop Wunderman Thompson, Bas Korsten and Daniel Bonner

She represents the first big hire for Wisnom, who took over the CEO reins last year after the retirement of former chief executive Becky Chidester. Wisnom is set to mark a year in his position in the second quarter.

“This hire is all about the future,” he said.

The agency’s biggest clients, which include Pfizer, Janssen and Boehringer Ingelheim, stand to benefit from Maia’s international experience: She has led teams all over the world in addition to the U.S. Her lived experiences include being born in America, growing up in Brazil and having a multinational family.

“The diverse background that she brings makes her an incredible asset in talking to organizations that aren’t just U.S.-centric, and that’s who our clients are,” Wisnom said. 

For Maia, a draw to the global CCO role is that it hasn’t existed before.

“I’ve always wanted to improve health around the world,” she said. “I also wanted to bring meaning to science. And then suddenly with this opportunity, I realized that I had the opportunity to really dial up the number to 10.”

The move is a return of sorts: Maia spent much of her career at WPP agencies, including VMLY&R and Grey. During her 10 years at what was then known as Y&R, she oversaw 19 countries and led three creative centers of excellence. 

The ability to work alongside Korsten and Bonner was another perk, Maia said.

“That health-to-consumer structure is going to allow a lot of collaboration,” she explained. “One of the things that I want to do is to work with these brilliant minds from different areas of expertise to create something that I personally call ‘unimaginable’… In today’s world, it’s about breaking the structures.”

Maia’s immediate goal involves taking that “creative burst” and augmenting WTH’s existing work. The agency won three Silvers at last year’s MM+M Awards, one each for immersive technology, the “We Love You to Health” equity campaign, and a global smallpox simulator. The agency was also rated by employees as one of the best places to work in healthcare advertising last year.

Maia credits Area 23’s success to its ability to create a culture that drives creativity, and said she plans to adopt a similar approach in her new role. 

“You need to have people who believe in creativity — and I’m not just talking about the creative department,” she explained. “I’m talking about the entire organization, from medical to account to creative to clients. It has to be embedded in the core… The secret is that you let the people that work for you shine, expand and let them flourish.”

Indeed, Wisnom said he was impressed with Maia’s “bullishness… There’s a feeling that you know you’re going to get something better because she was involved. That is something that you just don’t feel all the time, even with some of the most incredible candidates.”Wunderman Thompson Health’s revenue grew 27% in 2021 to an MM+M-estimated $215 million, according to the 2022 MM+M Agency 100.