R/GA Taps Charnock as First Chief Strategy Officer

JWT Exec to Help Move Shop to Full-Service Agency

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Interpublic Group's R/GA, as part of its effort to go from an interactive specialist to a full-service creative agency, has plucked top strategist William Charnock from WPP-owned ad firm JWT to serve as its first chief strategy officer.

William Charnock
William Charnock
Most recently, Mr. Charnock served as JWT, New York's director of strategic innovation and co-head of strategic planning. He also sat on the agency's worldwide planning council and architected its "Anxiety Index" study that measures global trends. Earlier in his career, he spent time at Omnicom Group's BBDO and Interpublic's Foote, Cone, Belding, both in New York, as well as WPP's Ogilvy.

Mr. Charnock will now be responsible for global strategy across R/GA's offices in the U.S., London and forthcoming outposts in Brazil and Singapore. He'll also lead the agency's strategy, planning and research teams -- and grow them. R/GA currently has around 15 planners and plans to double that number by the end of 2010.

He will report to Bob Greenberg, CEO and global chief creative officer.

R/GA's leadership team has largely come up through the ranks, so the move to invite an outsider with a traditional agency background to carry the torch as R/GA's strategic leader is an unusual one. To fill the newly-created role, R/GA canvassed some 20-25 candidates over six months. But there may be more such hires in the offing; Mr. Greenberg says he's already out looking for a senior media executive to join the team.

It's all a part of R/GA's play to become an international agency known not only for its digital chops, but one "that can do full service, including TV, print, radio, billboards," said Mr. Greenberg. "Many people don't think we can do it. William is an important part of [the evolution] because he understands the traditional side as well"

There are some signs that marketers are confident in R/GA's ability to evolve. Last month, it was named creative agency of record for Ameriprise Financial, responsible for both traditional and digital ad duties. The account had previously been at Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi for four years.

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