R/GA taps Ashish Prashar as new global CMO
Ashish Prashar, an international justice reform activist, former press secretary for the Mayor of London, and one-time head of communications for Publicis Sapient, now has another line to add to his extensive and highly accomplished resume: Global chief marketing officer for R/GA.
“Our agency, industry and society have shifted tremendously over the past year,” says R/GA’s global CEO Sean Lyons. “Ash’s thoughtful, strategic advocacy and service to others make him an ideal shepherd of our values and our purpose of helping clients design businesses and brands for a more human future.”
In his new role, Prashar is poised to oversee R/GA’s worldwide marketing functions and will be responsible for the creative powerhouse’s market strategy, brand and corporate communications.
“Sean played a big role” in attracting me to the organization, says Prashar, who’s now based in New York. But Lyons’ input was not the only reason. R/GA’s core mission of working toward a “more beautiful and human future” aligns closely with his own principles, Prashar says, having sensed an opportunity to continue his advocacy in the role of global CMO.
It’s not an easy task to summarize Prashar’s backstory in brief. Sent to prison for one year at age 17 for theft, he eventually found work as a journalist for NewsCorp in his early 20s, before signing on with the UK’s Conservative Party, climbing the ladder to become then-Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s press secretary—the first-ever formerly incarcerated individual to hold the position.
“But I never really was a Conservative,” laughs Prashar, describing his career before “deciding to go work with the people I actually wanted to work for.”
He moved back and forth between his native Britain and the U.S., doing work for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and the British Liberals before moving stateside full-time in 2014 to work for the communications teams of startups. But with Donald Trump’s election, he switched back to politics to lend a hand during the 2018 midterm elections, before being approached by Publicis Sapient, where he led the global comms team for two years prior to joining R/GA.
Underpinning more than 15 years of experience in the communications and marketing industries was a constant, personal emphasis on prison reform and justice activism—something that Prashar doesn’t plan to let go, despite signing on with R/GA.
“I think too often in our industry, creativity is talked about in the literal sense of creating ads,” he says.
But creativity’s role is often overlooked in places where it can make the most difference, he says: Ending cash bail systems, mobilizing Black voters, rethinking solitary confinement and working to re-enfranchise the voting rights of formerly incarcerated Americans. (30 states do not automatically restore the right to vote to ex-inmates, even after they are released.)
“At the end of the day, I’m a campaigner before I’m even a comms person or a marketer,” Prashar adds. “And I’m never going to not call out the shit that’s wrong.”
Prashar currently serves on numerous boards including those of Getting Out and Staying Out NYC, Leap Confronting Conflict, the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice and more. He is set to officially take the reins of his new role at R/GA on March 2.