Media agency vet Antony Young in December is trading in spreadsheets for orchards as he plots a move back to his native New Zealand with his wife and children to live and work on a farm.
"I've loved working in the business," he said in a statement. "But I also love my family and have many other goals that all require my being back in New Zealand."
Mr. Young left New Zealand in 1995 to oversee media for Saatchi & Saatchi in Asia, based in Hong Kong. Since then, he's held various international roles at Zenith Optimedia in Asia and the U.K. He came to New York to run Optimedia nine years ago. He subsequently joined Mindshare for a stint as North American CEO and has spent the past two years running Water Cooler Group, a network that houses Connecticut-based media agency Mediastorm. There, he's helped the shop add clients such as Phillips 66, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Bowlmor and NJOY.
"What I've loved about [Water Cooler Group] is it's a completely independent business," he said. "I've enjoyed the last two years. I've gotten closer to the work, to planning and strategy which was always my passion."
He said the group is currently searching for a successor.
Now, on the eve of his return New Zealand, he's getting as far away from the grind as he possibly can, literally. The farm that he and his family are buying is on the Southwest of the North Island of New Zealand; it's 400 miles from the advertising business in New Zealand, he said.
One of his three sons will attend college in New Zealand, and the move brings the family close to his and his wife's roots. She grew up on a farm not too far from their new farm, he said. And the new farm is only 60 miles north of Wellington, where Mr. Young grew up.
He's not the only media agency boss to bid adieu to adland. Initiative's former Global CEO Richard Beaven left the Interpublic Group of Cos' shop in 2012 to fulfill his passion for photography and change his lifestyle. Mr. Young has been in touch with Mr. Beaven.
He may take on marketing or media projects here and there, if it fits into his farming schedule, but the goal is to start a new life.
"It's not Manhattan," said Mr. Young of his farm in New Zealand. "But it's kind of where we're from. I knew we'd go back there."