Erwin Penland has promoted chief client officer and CMO Joe Saracino to president, effective Jan. 1, a week after the agency's founder announced his retirement plans.
Joe Erwin, who co-founded the shop 30 years ago, said last week that he would step down as president at the end of the year.
Karen Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday, which acquired Erwin Penland in 2004, oversaw the selection of the firm's new leader. "I have a lot of confidence in [Mr. Saracino] and the team, and our vision is very well-aligned for Erwin Penland's future, so I feel very good about this shift," Ms. Kaplan said.
Planning for Mr. Saracino to eventually take the helm began as early 2011, when he joined the agency as CMO, Ms. Kaplan added. He took on the additional role of chief client officer in mid-2014, broadening his remit from overseeing business development and organic growth to include working on current clients.
Mr. Saracino said he is looking internally for executives to succeed him in the posts he will vacate, which will be split among two executives. He plans on naming his successors in the next few weeks, he said.
Erwin Penland will continue focusing on digital, social media, content production, and experiential because "that is where the world is moving and that's what clients want," he added.
Before Erwin Penland, Mr. Saracino spent more than 15 years at Verizon -- a longtime client of the firm -- in a variety of senior roles, most recently as VP-marketing communications. Over the last few months, Erwin Penland lost business with Verizon, resulting in about 30 layoffs.
Despite losing some of its Verizon work, Erwin Penland has been very busy on the new business front and is planning to "to continue to grow and balance our client roster a little better" Mr. Saracino said.
In the last 18 months, Erwin Penland has brought on clients such as L.L. Bean, UPS Store, Califia Farms, and Disney XD.