Newly-appointed Erwin Penland president Joe Saracino announced to staff today that he will resign to join the marketing team at Chick-Fil-A, effective immediately. He held the role of president for less than three months. (Coincidentally, Chick-Fil-A is also an Erwin Penland client.)
In his place, Karen Kaplan–CEO of sister agency Hill Holliday–has promoted CCO Con Williamson and longtime COO Allen Bosworth to share the title of co-president moving forward.
In a statement to Adweek, Kaplan wrote:
“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. 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.”
We inquired as to whether Erwin Penland will replace Saracino, but that’s not the case–Williamson and Bosworth will indeed play lead for the foreseeable future while also retaining their past titles.
Williamson assumed the CCO position back in 2013 after stepping down from the same role at Saatchi & Saatchi New York. Saracino joined Erwin Penland as CMO two years earlier; he had spent more than a decade on the marketing side at Verizon, which was at the time one of EP’s largest clients.
Verizon gradually ended its relationship with Erwin Penland as part of last year’s string of consolidation moves–and the agency had to lay off 40-50 staffers at once across its New York and Greenville, South Carolina just days before president Joe Erwin stepped down and named Saracino his successor in November.
Multiple sources told us that more staffers have left Erwin Penland over the past two weeks after the agency publicly announced the addition of Martin Agency veteran Mike Lear to its creative department (he was actually hired last fall).
We will not get the opportunity to discuss the most recent departures with Mr. Saracino. His title at Chick-Fil-A is unclear, but we hear that he will report directly to the chain’s CMO.