BBH New York Rebuilds Leadership Team With New CEO, CCO and Chairman

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BBH New York Chairman Sarah Watson, CEO Anthony Romano and CCO Gerard Caputo. Credit: BBH

Following the departures of key leadership over the last few months, BBH New York has named executives to the positions of Chief Creative Officer, CEO and Chairman.

Gerard Caputo, who previously served as executive creative director, moves up to chief creative officer, Global Chief Strategy Officer Sarah Watson adds New York Chairman to her role, while former R/GA SVP-Client Services U.S. Anthony Romano joins as New York CEO.

The appointments rebuild top management after former N.Y. Chief Creative Officer Ari Weiss, North America CEO Pat Lafferty and New York Creative Chairman John Patroulis departed in recent months. Weiss became North America CCO at DDB, Lafferty became president at Translation, while John Patroulis stepped into Worldwide CCO post at Grey.

According to BBH Global CEO Neil Munn, Caputo, Watson and Romano will help shape BBH to be more nimble and responsive to client needs. The BBH brand has always stood for creativity and doing things differently--its mascot is a black sheep that stands out and "zags" while the the rest of the pack "zigs."

"Our strategy is about creating a broader canvas for our creativity," Munn said. "To take the business forward, we've got to put forth forward-facing skills mixed with a good dose of the BBH brand DNA."

Caputo is a four-year BBH vet who previously worked at top creative shops, including BBDO New York, Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Fallon, Minneapolis. Munn says his "fingerprint" has been on most of the agency's standout work in recent years, including award-winning campaigns for Sony Playstation and Netflix. He was creative lead on last year's Cannes Lions Grand Prix-winning "FU2016" campaign for Netflix's "House of Cards." He brings a "tremendous sense of ambition, a broad view of creativity and smart pragmatism about delivering what clients need," said Munn.

"When the opportunity arose I immediately knew that I wanted Gerard to step up into the CCO role," said Global CCO Pelle Sjoenell in a statement. "His ability to rally people and solve our clients' toughest problems makes him the perfect choice."

At R/GA Romano reported directly to Founder/Chairman Bob Greenberg and oversaw the agency's client teams across its six U.S offices. During his tenure he oversaw integrated groups on some of the agency's significant relationships with clients like Samsung, Verizon and Pepsi. Before R/GA he had served as global head of agency development at AOL and worked in managment positions at Publicis Groupe, Ogilvy and Carmichael Lynch.

"When we set out on our CEO search, we looked for three things: one, someone who has genuine leadership firepower, two, someone with a new set of skills, experience and perspective and three, someone who brings hunger to the role," said Munn. "Anthony definitely has one and three, but he's exceptionally well qualified in terms of two, and he'll help us accelerate our agenda."

Watson is a 14-year BBH staffer who early on had been a planner in the London office, working on iconic accounts such as Johnnie Walker, Levi's and Vodafone. In 2007 she became head of international planning and in 2011, BBH named her its the first-ever chief strategy officer, based out of the New York office. She's a "very important piece of the mix," said Munn. "We pride ourselves on our culture, the black sheepness, and it's very important that we protect that and nurture it going forward. There's a lot of transition across the industry, and we want to make sure the values and DNA of BBH is really nurtured and protected in the next phase."

This may be extra crucial in the year ahead. As part of the Publicis network, it may be even a tougher challenge preserving that DNA following CEO Arthur Sadoun's announcement last week about pulling out of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2018 and redirecting those funds to Marcel, a new AI-powered professional assistant platform.

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