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AKQA Quickly Fills Executive Creative Director Role

Agency vets Robinson and Clements assume co-ecd position days after Lipton leaves
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AKQA has moved quickly in replacing Pierre Lipton as executive creative director in its San Francisco office, naming Neil Robinson and Stephen Clements to collectively fill the role Friday (Aug. 25). Robinson and Clements have been with the ad agency for 15 and nine years, respectively, and will lead around 100 staffers in campaigns for clients like Audi, Gap, Google, Nike, Target and Visa.

In business, sports, the arts or editorial, the topic of dual leadership—i.e., the question of whether it’s an effective executive strategy—can sometimes bring differing opinions from industry players. Rei Inamoto, chief creative officer for AKQA, said the longstanding working relationship between Robinson and Clement made the co-director appointments an easy call.

“To be honest, I’d be worried if it was two new people who had never worked together,” he said. “But that’s totally not the case.”

And, Inamoto said, AKQA has utilized the co-directors approach before as business has scaled in its San Francisco, London and New York offices during recent years.

It’s only been a matter of days since Lipton—appointed ecd for AKQA in January—left for M&C Saatchi (Lipton joined AKQA from BBDO in 2010, particularly to helm the agency's Xbox account). Inamoto and his team didn’t believe a long search for his replacement was needed.

“I do a fair amount of recruiting, and I know how tricky recruiting can be,” he said. “And for better or worse, we are quite picky about people, especially when it comes to leadership positions. The Pierre situation came quickly. But change is the only constant we know about in the world. … The difference comes in how prepared you are, how you manage change and how quickly you can adapt to change.”