CPB Global CEO Erik Sollenberg to depart agency
CPB is losing yet another top executive: Eric Sollenberg, global chief executive officer, is leaving the troubled agency.
The news comes on the heels of the agency’s loss of the Infiniti account this week to Publicis Groupe. That was just the latest blow following the departure last fall of the Domino’s creative account, a 13-year-partnership that produced some of the industry’s major digital innovations at the time. The account moved to WorkInProgress, the small Boulder firm founded by a group of CPB alums.
Sollenbeg stepped into the post in August 2017, after previously serving as CEO of Gothenburg, Sweden-headquartered creative shop Forsman & Bodenfors, which CPB-owner MDC acquired in 2016.
According to the agency, Sollenberg recently moved back to Sweden due to family issues and has been continuing in his post from there. He will remain at the shop as it searches for its next CEO.
CPB’s website lists only six clients—one of them Infiniti. The others are Fruit of the Loom, VRBO, Hotels.com, Veterans United and American Airlines. Otherwise, the site is blank save the words: “Established 1988. Miami, Florida. Reestablished 2021. Denver, Colorado.”
The words seem to reflect the agency’s moves last December, when it announced it was setting the stage for its next chapter with the appointment of Activision Blizzard exec Jorge Calleja as its new U.S. creative chief, and with the news that it would be relocating its Boulder office to Denver, citing the city’s convenience for its team and clients as well as the opportunity it afforded to improve CPB’s diversity.
Sollenberg is the latest in a string of top execs to leave. Danielle Whalen Aldrich, exec VP and president, last spring departed quietly from the shop, which is principally being run now by Ryan Skubic, managing director.
When Sollenberg first arrived at the agency, among the first tasks Chairman Chuck Porter had for him was to rethink CPB’s overall creative structure, starting with the Boulder office. “We have allowed ourselves to become a little more hierarchical than I'd like to be,” Porter said at the time. “I'm not positive that the people doing the work are close enough to the clients, so I want him to think about getting the actual makers of the work closer to the people we're doing the work for.”
Since then, the agency saw various changes in creative leadership. Former McCann and Ming exec Linus Karlsson came on board as global chief creative officer September 2017, but departed after a year. Around the same time, co-founder Alex Bogusky returned with great fanfare as chief creative engineer—only to leave 18 months later. In April of last year, CPB was one of a number of agencies that announced furloughs and layoffs due to the pandemic.
The continuing devolution of CPB comes in stark contrast to its historical run as one of the hottest shops of the 2000s, when it was named Ad Age’s Agency of the Decade, spawning such creative talents as Andrew Keller, Rob Reilly and Tiffany and Dave Rolfe, who have gone on to major leadership roles at other firms. Another sad milestone came in 2017, when the agency shuttered its Miami office. "This is something we've been talking about for a long, long time and, ultimately, I have been convinced that it's the best thing for the agency,” said an emotional Porter at the time. “It still breaks my heart.”
Contributing: E.J. Schultz
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Danielle Whalen Aldrich left CPB earlier this year. Her departure was actually in May of 2020. We regret the error in reporting.