Mr. Merkin's departure comes less than two years after he rejoined CP&B's Miami office.
He'll still be connected to CP&B parent MDC Partners via a consulting relationship. It's not clear what he'll be doing from a creative perspective for the holding company -- he couldn't be reached immediately for comment -- but the move reunites Mr. Merkin with his two best friends and former co-partners in now-defunct agency Toy, MDC executive management principals Anne Bologna and David Dabill.
Mr. Merkin worked closely on CP&B client MetLife and was behind one of the agency's Super Bowl spots for the insurer earlier this month. But CP&B doesn't plan to replace him in the role and says it has transferred responsibility for that account to another executive creative director in Miami.
CP&B is also losing Dave Rolfe, a longtime staffer and the director of integrated production. Mr. Rolfe is decamping for BBDO, New York to take the same job. He'll start in March and report to David Lubars, BBDO's chairman and chief creative officer for North America.
"I am a huge student of progressive advertising and production," said Mr. Rolfe in a statement. "BBDO is a new world for me. I'm psyched to be invited to join them. It's an agency that 's been synonymous with great work for decades, and there's an exciting aura of newness there, with great recent work and accomplishments under David."
Mr. Rolfe, who earlier in his career spent time at BBDO sibling agency DDB in Chicago, is married to CP&B Executive Creative Director Tiffany Rolfe. She has had responsibility for setting up the agency's Los Angeles office, and she'll also be shifting to New York.
CP&B isn't replacing Mr. Rolfe, either.
"We are truly appreciative for all of his meaningful contributions to CP&B," said agency CEO Andrew Keller in a statement. "We will not be replacing his role as director of integrated production; however, we will be announcing a new director of video production in the next few weeks. The integrated production department has incredibly strong leadership within each group, and we think this system accurately reflects the current needs of the agency and our clients."
Also in the statement, Mr. Keller said about Mr. Merkin: "We are grateful for all Ari has contributed to CP&B and look forward to seeing him flourish in all of his future endeavors."
These departures follow the exit of another senior leader, Jeff Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin, who led digital at CP&B and was a partner there, shocked adland with the announcement of his move to WPP's JWT after a successful run at CP&B, to which he owes much of his notoriety in the ad business.
The changes to CP&B's senior ranks are a sign that the agency, which for so long was the hottest shop in adland, is feeling the same pressures all others face. The company had a round of layoffs -- it let go just under 5% of its staff in January -- and is increasingly pitching for business, something that wasn't encouraged under its former leader, Alex Bogusky.