Barbarian CEO to Become Chief Executive of Omnicom’s Organic

Cathy Butler replaces Dave Shulman, who left in October 2018

Cathy Butler had been Barbarian's CEO since April 2017. Organic

Organic, the self-described digital interaction agency within Omnicom Precision Marketing Group (OPMG), has hired away Barbarian CEO Cathy Butler as its new chief executive officer.

Butler is set to join the agency on April 29 and will report directly to OPMG CEO Luke Taylor. She replaces Dave Shulman, who parted ways with the agency in October 2018.

“Cathy’s more than 20 years of experience, across some of the biggest brands in the marketplace, positions her as an accomplished leader in our industry,” Taylor said. “We’re looking forward to the technical, strategic and creative expertise and leadership she’ll bring to the Organic organization.”

Butler joined Cheil Worldwide-owned Barbarian in April 2017 to help turn around the agency, which at the time was losing major clients such as Pepsi and dealing with a wave of executive departures including chief strategy officer Ian Daly and later co-founder and chairman Benjamin Palmer.

“Cathy has been a critical part of the Barbarian story over the last couple of years,” Barbarian president of international operations and North American CEO Aaron Lau said in a statement. “We thank her for her contributions and wish her all the very best in her new role. We have in Barbarian an excellent leadership team that has been instrumental in helping clients reinvent their business for the future, and we look forward to welcoming a new CEO to bring our vision to fruition. The future has never looked so promising for Barbarian.”

Butler was able to land Barbarian’s first creative win (L’Oreal’s Essie nail polish brand) in May 2018, after a long dry spell. According to Organic, she also drove triple-digit growth for her former employer last year.

“Barbarian has been a family to me over the past two years,” Butler said in a statement. “Together, we’ve fearlessly reinvigorated the agency, forged new client partnerships and developed exciting work for clients, all while staying true to our tech-centric heritage. I am confident that they are in great hands with the current team and I look forward to seeing what Barbarian does next.”

In her new role, she will first focus on unlocking new ways to grow Organic’s current offering in digital transformation.

“As most of my career has revolved around digital, I’m really excited for the opportunity to join an agency that’s truly foundational in the digital space,” Butler added. “My top priority is to ensure that the agency has what it needs to succeed: the right capabilities and client relationships and a growing client portfolio.”

Before Barbarian, Butler was executive vice president, group director and North American lead for digital products at Digitas and previously spent 10 years at LBi (which Publicis Groupe has since folded into the Digitas network) as director of client services, leading accounts such as Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena and Seamless.

@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.