Andrew Essex, co-founder, vice chairman and former CEO of Droga5, is leaving the agency.
Mr. Essex has been vice chairman since 2013, when President Sarah Thompson succeeded him as CEO, but prior to that he had been CEO since Droga5's founding in 2006. After leaving his CEO post, Mr. Essex continued to oversee De-De, the agency's digital product-development studio.
"After nearly a decade helping to grow this amazing company from six people to nearly five hundred, I'm transitioning into an advisory role and relinquishing my day-to-day role as vice chairman," said Mr. Essex in a statement. "I look forward to an ongoing relationship with Droga5 as the agency continues its historic rise."
An unorthodox career trajectory brought him to one of the industry's hottest agencies. Prior to joining Droga5, Mr. Essex was an executive in the publishing world, holding senior roles at Entertainment Weekly, Details and the New Yorker. His writing appeared in the New York Times Magazine and Outside, among other well-known publications. He has also written several books, including one with producer and musician Nile Rodgers and another with former Barney's CEO Gene Pressman.
Mr. Essex declined to detail what's next in store for him, and a statement from the agency only said that he would focus on "personal projects."
Mr. Essex was CEO of Droga5 as it transformed from a scrappy hot shop with a handful of people working on some interesting brands to a sought-after agency pumping out creative most of adland wanted to emulate. All the while, it was winning big clients like Kraft and Coca-Cola and getting financial backing from investor Henry Silverman and MTV Founder Bob Pittman. The year Mr. Essex became vice chairman, the agency secured a 49% stake from Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor.
"Andrew was the sixth person to join this company. It was a huge day for us. Not only did he bring a unique POV, wisdom and grace to our five-month-old agency, it meant we could no longer all fit around our only table," said Founder and Creative Chairman David Droga. "A lot of time and desks since then, but he has always been a great friend and partner throughout."
The agency has also been a perennial on Ad Age's Agency A-list, appearing every year since at least 2010, and in January was named Creativity's Agency of the Year.