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.
An electric Nissan LEAF is six times more efficient than a gas-fueled car, meaning it’s six times cheaper. When you drive a LEAF, it not only adds to your woodland fairy street cred, but the act saves money. Most people don’t realize that, which is why AKQA created a social campaign to inform Londoners about the benefits of Nissan’s electric innovation.
People tweeted their destination to Nissan, then met a Nissan LEAF at a special taxi station near London’s Liverpool station. The journeys often cost less than 10p, or roughly 15 cents. Now that the number is in American money, it’s even clearer how ludicrously cheap that is.
“Every passenger got out of the Nissan LEAF taxi with a smile on their face,” says Nissan GB managing director Jim Wright in a statement, adding, “They loved the near silence and general refinement of the car… and were blown away when they discovered how cheap it is to fuel. Using off-peak electricity – such as when recharging overnight – means it really costs just a few pence in fuel to go anywhere by Nissan LEAF.”
In addition to increasing awareness, the London stunt, which has now expanded to Amsterdam, also helps Nissan gather consumer insight, informing them in their research on the “taxi of the future.” Nissan is also the new exclusive supplier of New York City yellow cabs, in case you didn’t know. We trust they got some good intel across the pond and that they’ll be bringing only the highest quality, affordable vehicles to our grand island. Instead of catching cabs, let’s catch LEAFs. Traffic jams can become LEAF piles. I’m excited already.
Credits and images from the stunt after the jump.
We’ve been hearing from tipsters and just received confirmation that Jim Rossman is out as president and COO of AKQA. This news comes alongside a slew of promotions at AKQA in the wake of holding company WPP announcing they were acquiring the agency.
Currently, we have no word on whether Rossman resigned or was let go,
. but a source tells us it sounds like the latter (We’re hearing it was not the latter. See update below). AKQA hired Rossman away from Digitas in March 2009, where he was also COO. We’ve reached out to AKQA for an official statement, and we’ll keep you updated as we receive more details.
Update: We’ve received confirmation from AKQA that Rossman is indeed no longer with the agency.
Update 2: We’ve also been told by sources familiar with the matter that from the beginning, it was agreed that he was brought in to handle operations and upon a change in investors, he was to exit.
Over the last hour, a couple of tipsters have sent us what appears to be a brief memo sent from AKQA founder Ajaz Ahmed to staff regarding a slew of new promotions across the board from San Francisco to Amsterdam. We’re checking with the newly christened WPP agency to get some verification on the matter, but you can see the note verbatim for yourself below of what the new leadership looks like at the digital network.
In recognition of their contribution to our clients and company, I’m delighted to announce a number of promotions that are effective immediately.
Please join me in congratulating the team:
- Guy Wieynk promoted to Vice President, International
- Stuart Sproule promoted to Managing Director, International Operations & Talent
- Simon Jefferson promoted to Managing Director, San Francisco
- Erik Rogstad promoted to Managing Director, Washington DC
- Scott Symonds promoted to Managing Director, Media
- Matthew Bain promoted to Managing Director, Amsterdam
These promotions give us more agility, organisation and focus as we work together to unlock the tremendous opportunities ahead.
With thanks and best wishes,
Let’s give you a little background on a few of these folks if you need. Wieynk has served as AKQA European MD and was tasked with leading the newly opened Paris office at the beginning of the year. Symonds has been with AKQA for five years, joining from Agency.com and Sproule has had an 11-year run at AKQA, most recently serving as MD for the San Francisco and Shanghai offices.
Despite his shareholder woes, we guess you can chalk up another win for Sir Martin Sorrell as his holding company WPP has agreed to acquire AKQA. The digital network will still operate as a standalone unit within the fold and continue to be led by founder/CEO Ajaz Ahmed and chairman Tom Bedecarré. As a result of the move, the latter will also become president of a new Silicon Valley-based outfit called WPP Ventures, which will explore new digital opportunities for WPP.
Says Sorrell in a statement, “We are thrilled to welcome AKQA’s unique team of technological innovators and entrepreneurs to WPP. We have admired their creativity and technological skills for a long time along with their outstandingly effective and award-winning work for clients. We are looking forward to working with Ajaz and Tom to broaden their offer and our own, both geographically and functionally. We are delighted to be united!”
Hyperbole aside, here’s a quick stat: AKQA currently has eight global offices and houses 1,160 staffers ranging from creatives and strategists to engineers and technologists. In addition, the Guardian reports that the WPP acquisition of AKQA is the “most significant deal” in the digital ad market since Publicis Groupe bought Razorfish three years ago.