In a surprising overhaul of its leadership, Saatchi & Saatchi New York has parted with both its CEO Brent Smart and its chief creative officer Jay Benjamin. Both will leave the agency, effective Sept. 1.
The two will be replaced by president Andrea Diquez and Javier Campopiano, who had been president of Saatchi & Saatchi New York and chief creative officer of Saatchi & Saatchi Latin America, respectively.
"Jay and I started this journey of reinventing Saatchi New York together as partners, and we've decided to finish as partners, as we both leave the agency to pursue other opportunities," Smart said in a statement. "For me personally, after five years with the agency, it's time for a change, and the time is right to do that now with the right succession in place, which is something we've been talking about for a while."
"We greatly appreciate the vision and passion that Brent and Jay have brought to the agency during their time here and we thank them for their contribution," said Worldwide CEO Robert Senior. "We're looking forward to the next chapter of Saatchi NY under Andrea and Javier's leadership as we continue to focus on the success of our clients."
Smart joined the Saatchi organization in 2011 as global managing director and leader of the international General Mills business after holding management positions at BBDO's offices in San Francisco and Auckland, New Zealand. He was promoted to the chief executive role in November 2013, replacing Durk Barnhill as Saatchi & Saatchi New York's second CEO in less than 14 months.
Benjamin became executive vice president, chief creative officer in April 2014 after spending four years in the same role at fellow Publicis shop Leo Burnett, which subsequently closed the New York office he had run. He had previously held top creative roles at the Australian offices of J. Walter Thompson and Saatchi & Saatchi.
News of their pending departures follows the announcement, one month ago, that General Mills would be launching a closed review of its creative and content agencies in the U.S. after adding Fallon, 72andSunny, JWT and Wieden + Kennedy to its roster. It is unclear whether Saatchi & Saatchi New York is participating in that review.
Diquez joined Saatchi's New York office in 2013 after serving as the chief executive of its operations in Mexico. She was promoted to the role of president last October to serve as Smart's "second in command" as the shop consolidated its offices, eliminating multiple floors and filming the subsequent carnage for a music video by the rock band Big Data. Moving forward, Diquez will retain her leadership role on the P&G business.
Campopiano has worked in advertising for more than two decades, serving as chief creative officer of FCB's Latin American and New York-based operations for more than four years before rejoining Saatchi & Saatchi (he had previously worked as a creative director at the agency's Buenos Aires office). Campopiano's work has earned more than 30 Cannes Lions over the course of his career.
In an additional change to the larger Saatchi & Saatchi network, global head of public relations Lee Sharrock will also be leaving her job after more than six years this week. These departures follow the news that global chairman Kevin Roberts will be stepping down on Sept. 1 after making controversial comments to Business Insider reporter Lara O'Reilly regarding women in advertising and gender equality advocate Cindy Gallop. He was scheduled to retire in May 2017.