R/GA CEO Sean Lyons: Christmas parties and the metaverse

Sean Lyons became CEO of R/GA in 2019, when he took over from the agency’s founder, Bob Greenberg. A native New Yorker, Lyons has worked in creative tech since graduating with a degree in painting and electronic media in 1998, including 12 years on and off at R/GA.

What is Christmas in New York looking like?

New York is busy. Shopping for the kids, the lines are insane and there’s lots of activity, but R/GA isn’t having a party this year, we’ll do some online gatherings. There are a few parties happening, but everyone is being more cautious and we’re all doing tests. Our office is open and vaccines are mandatory but you can work fully remotely and we have many people doing that.

What are your priorities for 2022?

The metaverse, and educating clients around the metaverse. Some of it is hype, but it’s built on a series of trends that have been happening for a long time: gaming, mixed reality, crypto, block chain, the shift to a lot of activity in the entertainment and experience space, as well virtual events and experiences. This confluence puts a lot of weight behind the metaverse. The metaverse is not trying to replace the in-person experience, it’s a new platform for experience, in the way that photography began as a new platform for portraiture, and film began as a way to document stage plays, but they each developed as mediums in their own right.

What will be different next year?

We’re not going back to how it was and we shouldn’t be. We are reconfiguring our space so that we don’t have a sea of desks: there will be new editing suites, with some designed around helping clients to create experiences in the metaverse; session rooms where you can be working on a client over a period of time; and lots of smaller rooms to shoot in. It will be a more collaborative environment with lots of stand up tables, but there will also be quiet work rooms and conference rooms.

How much do you work with the wider IPG network?

IPG is tremendously supportive of agency brands, they don’t try to mould you into a “team x” model because talent wants to join agencies and agencies are where culture live. We work with many agencies inside and outside IPG; clients expect us to collaborate and that’s how R/GA started — in film production — where you are creating one piece of the larger vision of a director, so we are used to working with others towards a single goal.

How is the R/GA international network shaping up?

This is the first year we have more work outside the US than inside. The pandemic brought the network closer together, and the amount of work across two or more offices increased dramatically because we were more connected globally. That comes from from clients like Nike, who want a diverse global team on their business, and also from us – when we have a meeting of network leaders, we are all in the same size box on the screen, and that’s very democratic.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.

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