And then there were two.
Adam&eveDDB founder and group CCO Ben Priest has said he’s leaving the award-winning agency later this year. His departure follows that of media ace Jon Forsyth who left shortly after the adam&eve founders had completed their £100m earn out from Omnicom.
Priest (below) says: “In the ten years since James, David and I launched the agency, we’ve done more together than I ever dreamed possible. We have conquered all comers and produced work I’m so proud of, I know I’ll be boring my grandchildren about it in 30 years time.
“However, my mind has increasingly begun to turn to other, non advertising adventures and it’s these I shall be leaving to pursue. I also have a young family and would like to spend a bit more time with them.
“Winning (Campaign’s) Agency of the Year for the fifth time last December really made me feel like this would be the perfect moment to bow out.
“One thing that makes this change slightly easier is knowing I’m leaving the agency in great shape, under the leadership of our brilliant management team. We have also been so fortunate to have Rick Brim take over the creative leadership. He’s the best of the best and the work speaks to that.”
Fellow founders James Murphy and David Golding are staying as group CEO and chief strategy director respectively.
In 2017 the founders handed over much day-to-day control of the agency to a new management team compromising Rick Brim, Tammy Einav, Mat Goff and Alex Hesz. A&E now includes an outpost in New York with rumours of an operation in continental Europe.
Priest is closely associated with A&E’s most famous account, John Lewis. Presumably plans for this year’s Christmas extravaganza are well under way although some commentators have speculated that the department store might change tack this year.
Founders leaving to spend more time with their money (and family, of course) is hardly new and A&E has put a great deal of effort into bringing through a new generation of top management. Omnicom sibling and rival AMV BBDO has managed this pretty seamlessly over the years.
But founders and other senior management leaving following a buyout can be unsettling all the same. It happened to BBH when Publicis Groupe bought the 51 per cent of the agency it didn’t own a few years back and the agency is only now recovering.