AMV BBDO leader Cilla Snowball steps down after 26 years

Cilla Snowball – who’s been synonymous with AMV BBDO’s success in the UK and is a Dame Commander of the British Empire, no less – is stepping down as Group CEO and chairman of the UK’s largest ad agency after 26 years. Snowball intends to pursue a range of other interests.

She’ll be succeeded as AMV CEO by Sarah Douglas and Justin Pahl as group chairman.

Snowball (below) says: “It’s very hard to leave a business I love, and work that I enjoy. If you’ve worked as long as I have in a great job like mine, I think it’s best to go when people ask why, not when you are leaving. I’m beyond grateful for the opportunities and support I have been given at AMV BBDO, surrounded by the best work, people and clients. I’ve always loved doing portfolio work and I am excited about the next chapter.”

BBDO Worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson says: “About a year ago, Cilla told me she was giving me 12 months’ notice of her intention to leave her position and pursue a portfolio-based career, working on the boards and government initiatives that she is frequently approached for. Since then, I have spent most of my time pretending the conversation never happened; and Cilla has spent hers tirelessly developing the agency’s business, reputation and leadership team. As always though, Cilla meant what she said. And now, after 26 years, that time has come.”

Of the new top team Robertson says: “Sarah (Douglas) has been associated with some of the agency’s most powerful work and has led many of its most important pitches as chief client officer. She is sharp, challenging, courageous, and knows how to get the best out of the agency.

“Justin (Pahl) has led some of our most important client assignments and, most recently, led the European effort on Ford (a big new win from WPP for Omnicom’s BBDO). I congratulate Sarah and Justin and wish them every success as they transition into their new roles.”

Snowball is one of the most capable and nicest people in UK advertising. She’s helped to keep AMV on top of the heap in billings terms even after it lost its creative founder David Abbott, whose signature classy style, decency and copywriting ability defined the agency along with fellow founders Peter Mead and Adrian Vickers.

I first met her some years ago in the early days of MAA when she greeted me warmly at an IPA reception even though I’m convinced she hadn’t the faintest idea who I was. But that’s adverts and Cilla is one of its finer products.,

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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