Joe Saracino, who was promoted from CMO to president of Erwin Penland in November, announced today that he will resign to accept a top marketing job at Chick-fil-A, which is also an Erwin Penland client.
Karen Kaplan, CEO of sister shop Hill Holliday, told staffers this afternoon that chief operating officer Allen Bosworth and chief creative officer Con Williamson will replace Saracino by jointly filling the roles of co-president, effective immediately. They will also retain their current titles, so Bosworth will be president and COO, and Williamson will be president and CCO.
Saracino's specific title at Chick-fil-A is not yet clear, but he will report directly to the chain's chief marketing officer, Jon Bridges.
"While all of us are sad to see Joe go, Erwin Penland has a great leadership team in place, a strong bench, and phenomenal new business momentum," Kaplan said in a statement. "I'm confident that Allen and Con are the right people to harness the talent of our team and steer our ship. Both Allen and Con have more than proven themselves. Allen helped build the agency from the ground up over the last 28 years. Con has played an instrumental role in both advancing the agency's creative product, and jumpstarting client growth at the agency since joining two years ago."
Saracino spent more than a decade in the marketing department of telecom giant Verizon before joining Erwin Penland. At the time, Verizon was one of the agency's largest clients, but the company ended its relationship with the IPG agency late last year amid an ongoing round of consolidations.
Soon afterward, co-founder and president Joe Erwin announced he would be retiring after three decades in advertising and handing his agency's reins to Saracino.
Erwin Penland does not plan to hire a new president; the organization believes Williamson and Bosworth will sufficiently handle Saracino's responsibilities.
Since sparking controversy in 2012, the now-former president's new employer, Chick-fil-A, has attempted to move beyond the personal politics of its chief operating officer, Dan Kathy, a religious conservative who opposes same-sex marriage. Less than a month ago, it reopened its first New York location after city officials cited the chain for various health code violations.