RAPP CEO, Accused of ‘Destructive’ Behavior in Lawsuit, Resigns

Successor says agency remains 'on a great trajectory'

Digital marketing agency RAPP, whose lawyers recently defended global CEO Alexei Orlov as a victim of "outrageous allegations" raised in a recent lawsuit, announced today that its top executive is stepping down after two years atop the organization.

Orlov will be replaced by London-based Marco Scognamiglio, evp of global clients and president of the agency's operations in Europe, Africa and Asia. Scognamiglio becomes acting CEO, effective immediately.

The news arrives a little more than a month after RAPP's former U.S. president, Greg Andersen, who had been fired in April, filed the suit accusing Orlov of discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The suit claimed that Orlov had referred to multiple women as "fat cows," told a Jewish employee that he was "miserly" with money, declined to promote a female executive because she was "too pretty," and once told a meeting of approximately 70 employees in Dallas, "Mess with my brand or my direction and I will break off your finger and shove it up your ass."

The agency's lawyers say the accusations are baseless and that Andersen's firing was completely above board.

Similarly, the agency's statement about Orlov's exit includes no mention of the lawsuit and portrays the outgoing CEO in a positive light.

"Under the leadership of Alexei Orlov, RAPP has become a united global brand with a defining strategy and a point of differentiation in the marketplace," said Dale A. Adams, chairman and CEO of Omnicom's DAS Group of Companies, in a statement. "This strategy has led to more diverse and award-winning work, greater client retention and growth, and an impressive record of new business wins."

Orlov joined RAPP as global CEO in June 2014 after serving as chief marketing officer for Volkswagen's China region. An agency veteran, he previously held leadership roles at Interpublic Group and WPP's Wunderman where he was worldwide executive vice chairman.

The departing CEO broke the news to staff in an internal email today, and he later issued a statement reading, "I am very proud that RAPP has grown in terms of clients and scope of work, which is a testament to our incredible talent. Marco and I have worked closely across a number of initiatives these past two years and RAPP is in good hands."

Prior to this announcement, Scognamiglio oversaw RAPP's networks across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. He has spent more than 16 years with the organization, and from 2009 to 2015, he served as CEO of RAPP U.K. In the new role, he will work closely with global COO and CFO Matthew Hafkin, a 17-year veteran of the RAPP organization.

"Our company is on a great trajectory," said Scognamiglio. "We will remain laser-focused on our talent, driving results for clients and maintaining the strategic success of RAPP."

Several top executives within the RAPP organization, including chief creative officer Frank Iqbal and head of business leadership Kamini Lane, have left the agency since Adweek first broke the news of Andersen's lawsuit.