JWT's Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague are leaving the WPP Group agency to start one of their own, JWT has confirmed.
Ryan, JWT's North American president, has worked there since early 2004. Montague, co-president and chief creative officer for N.A., joined the shop in 2005.
To fill Ryan's role, JWT has named David Eastman, the shop's worldwide digital director, as CEO of North America. The shop will conduct a search to find Montague's successor, according to worldwide CEO Bob Jeffrey.
Ryan and Montague did not return several messages.
Each executive started in a New York role: Ryan as president of the office and Montague as co-president and chief creative officer. In 2008, Jeffrey promoted them to their North American positions, overseeing operations in N.Y., Chicago, Atlanta and Toronto, as well as JWT Specialized Communications and JWT CET.
Since then, the partners have been instrumental in attracting new accounts and expanding existing client relationships. The biggest newcomer has been Microsoft, a relationship that began in 2008 with a single assignment and last year grew to four assignments, chief among them creative duties on the launch of Bing. Microsoft now contributes an estimated $50 million in annual worldwide revenue to the WPP Group shop.
Jeffrey chalked up the partners' decision to leave to "entrepreneurial desire."
"I really do appreciate all the effort they put in," he added. "I brought them in when I became CEO because I had confidence in them to really deliver on what I wanted and they did. So, it's a bittersweet thing to see them go."
Before JWT, Ryan was president of MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners in New York and Montague was co-creative director of the N.Y. office of independent Wieden + Kennedy. Earlier in his career, Montague was executive creative director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty in N.Y.
Eastman's career is rooted in digital. Before JWT, he held several top roles at Omnicom Group's Agency.com, including worldwide CEO. Jeffrey hired him in December 2008 and he started in early 2009.
"David has proven himself in the past 18 months with very, very difficult challenges -- one of which was the integration of RMG and JWT -- and there has been no drama around that, which everybody thought there was going to be," Jeffrey said. "He has earned the credibility to be in that [CEO] role and I think it sends an important signal from a competitive point of view. I don't think there's any other agency that has done anything like this, especially one of our size."
This story updates an earlier post with Jeffrey's comments and additional details.