Sarah Watson, BBH New York Chairman and Global CSO, Is Leaving

She plans to pursue a career in 'transformational coaching'

sarah watson
Sarah Watson has spent much of her career at BBH. BBH
Headshot of Minda Smiley

After a long run, BBH’s global chief strategy officer and New York chairman Sarah Watson is calling it quits at the end of this year.

She’s leaving to pursue a career in “transformational coaching,” according to email sent to BBH employees by CEO Neil Munn. The email was provided to Adweek by a BBH spokesperson.

“After an extensive training program, her first clients will be able to benefit from her wisdom, experience and her kindness,” Munn wrote in the memo. “This is a transformational moment for Sarah, following a number of transformational contributions at BBH. Fittingly, her ambition now is to be a transformational coach. There is no doubt that she will make a fantastic success of it.”

Watson has spent much of her career at BBH. In 2001, she joined BBH London as a strategist before jumping ship to DDB nearly a decade later. Two years later, she returned to BBH to lead strategy at its New York office. She was promoted to global chief strategy officer in 2016 and named chairman of BBH New York in 2017.

During her time at the BBH, she’s worked on campaigns including Johnnie Walker’s “Keep Walking” and Playstation’s “Greatness Awaits.”

Under her leadership, BBH New York won clients including FanDuel and nonprofit Care. The agency has also rolled out campaigns for brands including Seamless, Planned Parenthood and Samsung over the past few years.

“Sarah has been a fantastic part of the BBH story for almost two decades. She has the rare ability to set a strategic context for a brand that goes beyond where most of us would naturally tread,” Munn said in a statement. “And she has always done it with great flair and decency. We wish her luck with her next endeavors as a coach—no doubt there will be many people who can benefit from Sarah’s new focus.”

At BBH, Watson established Griffin Farley’s Beautiful Minds, a program that helps young strategists and planners break into the industry. The initiative was created in honor of Farley, who served as a strategy director at BBH New York before passing away in 2013.

She was also the inaugural ambassador for See It Be It, a program dedicated to helping female creative directors network and meet industry leaders at Cannes Lions. She’s also supported Creative Comeback, a two-week program that helps people who’ve left the advertising industry for reasons such as parenthood or illness return to the workplace.

Watson’s departure comes nearly after a year after BBH New York’s chief creative officer, Gerard Caputo, left for Wieden+Kennedy. Caputo left roughly a year after BBH New York declined to participate in a global creative review for PlayStation, an account it won in 2013. 

@Minda_Smiley Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.