Arnold Worldwide’s first global chief creative officer, Jim Elliott, is leaving after just over two years on the job. The agency will not immediately replace Elliott, and he does not appear to have accepted a position elsewhere.
Elliott’s departure comes amid a string of changes by parent company Havas, which recently announced a plan to restructure its global network around a series of four regional chairmen, including global CEO Yannick Bolloré.
“During his two years at the agency, Jim made a tremendous impact to the agency in many ways, especially in the top talent he attracted and the great work that he helped deliver across our clients,” read a statement from an Arnold spokesperson. “We truly appreciate his contributions and partnership.”
The statement continued: “We’re fortunate to have an extremely talented group of executive creative directors who drive our creative product and serve as an important partner to clients on all of our accounts. They will continue to play the role of creative steward across our client portfolio.”
An agency spokesperson declined to directly tie Elliott’s departure to those of other Havas creative leaders recently, including CCO of the Americas Toygar Bazarkaya and global creative CEO Andrew Benett. Multiple sources told Adweek both of those executives were forced out as part of the organization’s ongoing effort to centralize management and tend more directly to the needs of clients regionally.
In addition to the other changes this month, the network announced that Havas U.S. creative chairman Jason Peterson and Havas Chicago CEO Paul Marobella would collectively lead the creative division of the holding company’s North American operations, with Arnold global CEO Pam Hamlin reporting to Marobella and each office’s chief creative officer reporting to Peterson.
That arrangement set up an inevitable conflict with Elliott, who led all 10 of Arnold’s offices from Boston and New York to Sydney and Shanghai.
Elliott joined Arnold in January 2015 to fill what was then a new role. He had previously spent about four years as CCO at Y&R New York holding other top creative roles at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Cole & Weber, and Mullen. Elliott divided his time between Arnold’s home base in Boston and its satellite office in New York.
The executive creative directors mentioned in the statement include Mathew Jerrett and Tim Flood, who joined the agency from Translation in the fall of 2016 to work on the Hershey account, as well as former M&C Saatchi L.A. creative lead James Bray, who now leads Carnival Cruise Line’s account. All three reported directly to Elliott.
Several longtime Arnold leaders have left in recent months. They include managing partner Don Lane, who left last summer after more than 20 years to become svp of brand and creative at hometown fantasy sports giant DraftKings, along with executive director Barbara Reilly and svp, marketing director and head of new business Michael Shonkoff.
For the moment, the Arnold will go without a chief creative officer. The agency’s best known clients include Progressive, CenturyLink, Hershey and Carnival.