We’ve been hearing from sources in the know that it’s “positive 100% confirmed” that Kristina Slade, creative director at AKQA San Francisco, has left the WPP-owned digital agency. Slade has spent nearly three years at AKQA SF, where she served as CD on Target among other things. Prior to her most recent gig, the creative spent a year at TBWA\Chiat\Day LA but, according to an AdAge interview from last year, left her ACD gig at the agency to “get more digital.” During her career, Slade also had seven-year gig at L.A. shop Ground Zero, which was merged with what is now WDCW three-and-a-half years ago. AKQA has yet to comment on the matter, but we’ll keep you posted.
Well, the A-B InBev camp hit the newswire late in the day to announce that they’ve chosen AKQA as digital agency of record for Budweiser, Bud Light and Stella Artois. As a result, AKQA will handle online and mobile programs, app development and work in tandem with each brew brand’s AOR including Anomaly (Budweiser), Translation (Bud Light) and Mother (Stella).
In a statement, A-B’s VP of U.S. marketing Paul Chibe says, “The importance of being able to connect with consumers digitally is at an all-time high, and AKQA has demonstrated they have the expertise and strategic insight needed to elevate our digital efforts to a new level. Our traditional marketing remains second-to-none, and our partnership with AKQA will ensure we have the world-class digital marketing to match.”
As you may have heard, this is the first time A-B InBev has selected a lead digital agency as previous digital efforts were overseen by the lead creative agency managing other partners on a per project basis. Yes, there was a pitch for the lead digital biz but we haven’t been told who else was in the running.
Sources familiar with the matter confirm that David Perez, who’s spent the last six months as creative recruiter at AKQA’s San Francisco office, is leaving the agency. Perez, who joined AKQA this past April after a five-year stint in the same position at Leo Burnett/Lapiz, is perhaps better known as @DavidOnDemand, the now-defunct handle he once assumed that garnered his 15 minutes of fame prior to Cannes 2010. AKQA would not comment on Perez’s departure, but from what we’ve been told by sources, the former Twitter serf/Chicago native has given notice and is heading into freelance territory. No timetable, though, has been set for his official departure from AKQA.
I’ve seen Screaming Mimi’s on Lafayette and always thought it was a terrifying costume shop. However, turns out I misjudged a store by its sign font, because Screaming Mimi’s is in fact a “vintage mecca.” And, it’s cool enough to collaborate with Target on their Halloween campaign.
Laura Wills, owner of the eclectic boutique, played stylist for Target’s 2012 costume look book. The resulting behind the scenes video–currently running on Target’s Halloween page built by AKQA-SF–is kind of endearing. Wills seems to truly believe in the magic of Halloween, and also appreciates the DIY nature of Target’s mix-and-match ensembles. The collection, “…allows people to create something absolutely original.”
But chances are, you’ll see 10 other people in the street wearing your same “80s karaoke singer” costume, and if you’re drunk enough you’ll take a photo with them or punch them in the face for copycatting. Either way, everyone is probably better off actually DIYing. Forgo a pointy hat or set of neon bracelets and be a pair of headphones! Be Psy and dance Gangnam Style everywhere. Oppa!
Over the last few days, we’ve received several tips that AKQA New York and its general manager David Bentley have parted ways. As usual, we were met with the old “no comment” from the agency, but another source just chimed in that Bentley’s out, effective immediately. The exec has spent nearly a decade within the AKQA network, serving as development/client services director across the European officer before landing in New York in 2009 to replace Jason Whiting as MD. One tipster laments/boasts that Bentley has “ done a fantastic job over the last 3 years redesigning, rebuilding and growing [the New York] office.” We’ll keep you posted once we find out more.
We’ve been hearing about this since the beginning of the week, and although the tips have been piling up, AKQA will not comment on word we’ve received that Jennifer Remling has left the agency. Here’s the last tip that was sent to us about this: “Confirmed: Jennifer Remling, Global Director of Recruiting for AKQA has left the building. Going to R/GA. Thursday 9/13 was her last day.” While AKQA keeps schtum, we’re of course checking with R/GA on the matter, though frankly sometimes it feels like pulling teeth with the latter.
Anyhow, Remling has spent the last 18 months in her aforementioned post at AKQA, working out of the agency’s San Francisco office. Prior to AKQA, she spent time on the talent acquisition side at the likes of Sapient and 360i. We’ll keep you posted if and when we hear from the R/GA camp on the matter.
It’s been a busy week on the staffing front at AKQA’s Bay Area branch. After losing top creative Pierre Lipton to M&C Saatchi New York (but quickly finding his successors), the WPP agency’s San Francisco office is losing its head of strategy Kelli Robertson, sources familiar with matter confirm. AKQA wouldn’t provide comment, but Robertson nearly spent nearly six years at the shop, first as group planning director before eventually moving up to her most recent position. From what we hear, though, AKQA is in the process of rebuilding its SF strategy department.
In addition to Robertson’s imminent departure, but unrelated to it, we’ve received word that AKQA U.S. head of production Scott Wassmer, who’s also based in San Francisco and has logged nearly six years at the agency, is soon leaving for a gig on the East Coast. Once again, AKQA wouldn’t comment on the matter.
Update: Sources familiar with the matter confirm that Robertson isn’t moving very far as she’s joining Goodby Silverstein & Partners “in a couple of weeks.” Still waiting on a title, though.
Once again, we have to give bravos for an agency being proactive. A day after learning that Pierre Lipton announced his departure from said agency, here’s the word from said agency: “AKQA announces that Neil Robinson and Stephen Clements, both respected creative leaders at the agency and in the industry, are taking the roles of joint Executive Creative Directors in San Francisco. Together, they will oversee the more than 100-person creative department at AKQA’s San Francisco office. Both Neil and Stephen will report directly to CCO, Rei Inamoto. ”
Inamoto adds, “Neil and Stephen bring years of leadership in creating some of the most inspiring and impactful work that has earned global recognition.”
By now, you’ve probably heard that after a two-year stint at AKQA’s San Francisco office, Pierre Lipton has joined up with M&C Saatchi New York to serve as chief creative officer. Here’s a rather brief memo from AKQA SF managing director Simon Jefferson to staff regarding Lipton’s departure:
“I wanted to send you news of a recent change in our staffing.
After much thought, Pierre Lipton, our Executive Creative Director, has decided to leave AKQA and move back to his home city of New York to work for another agency. I’d like to thank him for his commitment to the business and wish him all the very best for the future.
Rei Inamoto and I are currently working on a transition plan, which we will share with you shortly. In the meantime, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact either myself or Rei directly.
Thanks for your support and understanding during this period of change.”
Lipton, if you recall, originally joined AKQA’s Bay Area branch as a GCD on Xbox following a two-and-a-half year stint as VP/creative director at BBDO New York. He was promoted to head of creative at AKQA SF in January.
It seems that AKQA founder/chairman Ajaz Ahmed has been quite vocal since his digital agency was acquired by WPP a month ago. Here’s what appears to be his latest memo to staffers, which for some reason makes us want to revisit Bill Pullman‘s speech from Independence Day.
“As entrepreneurs, we are excited about putting our spirit and energy into this adventure because we are and have always been in control of our own destiny. We believe in the virtuous circle: that when we do good and have good intentions, good things happen. We believe in it because we’ve seen it in action time and time again through the reaction to the work, the growth of key relationships or the loyalty and commitment of our team.
We will always have an independent mindset, which to us means caring for the work, caring for clients, caring for our business, caring for the future.
Everyday we have board-level conversations with many of the greatest organisations and people on the planet. We are creating genre-defining work that is inspiring audiences worldwide. We are contributing thinking and ideas that our clients love, and our competitors love to copy. We are in a far better position to realise our potential than any of our competitors.
As a team, we are committed to being agile, strong, disciplined and responsive.
We have a set of standards, core values that are exacting and demanding. We have a guiding philosophy, the DNA of our company. We will preserve these timeless core values while at the same time stimulating innovation, creativity and progress across everything we do.
This is the underlying tension that drives our business.
Today our goal is to create one of the world’s great innovation companies that will endure for decades and I’m more excited than ever about it.
All that’s missing here is a Hans Zimmer or James Newton Howard score. Anyhow, the tipster who sent this to us says, “Can the AgencySpy community please help the employees of AKQA understand what our CEO is telling us? These words by themselves sound good but the meaning in the message is lost.” While we check with our AKQA contacts on the memo itself, feel free to weigh in.