Geico Account Lead and CMO, Managing Director Leave The Martin Agency

By Patrick Coffee 

Two senior-level veterans of IPG’s The Martin Agency have left in recent weeks, the company confirmed today.

Former vp, group account director Ben Creasey departed for a job as senior campaign manager at Amazon’s music division in Seattle while Chris Shumaker, who held the titles of evp, managing director and chief marketing officer, stepped down to take time off and eventually launch his own consulting practice.

Creasey spent nearly three years managing the agency’s largest account, GEICO.

He felt very [positive] leaving one of the best account jobs in the industry,” said CEO Kristen Cavallo, who took over for Matt Williams last December just days after the agency fired former chief creative officer Joe Alexander.

“My role at Amazon Music is a big opportunity for my career, and the move puts us closer to my wife’s family,” Creasey wrote. “I had an amazing experience at The Martin Agency, and I was bummed to leave the good people there doing great work.”

Cavallo said that president Chris Mumford, who succeeded Beth Rilee-Kelley in March, would be running the GEICO account while the agency seeks a replacement. “That team runs well,” she said, adding that longtime member Mumford “has that under his wing.”

The Martin Agency has counted GEICO as a client for more than 20 years, and during that time its ads have become ubiquitous across all media as everyone in the world learned that 15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance. The client’s corporate communications team has not responded to a request for comment on the news.

Shumaker worked at The Martin Agency from 1994 to 2005 before holding top roles at Grey, FCB and Publicis and returning to Martin last year; he called the move “like coming home.”

“It’s been a great experience,” he said, adding that the agency holds “a special place in my heart.”

The departing CMO continued, “Now, 35 years into the business and looking down the road at what I want to do, I thought, ‘What if I were to take the rest of year off, enjoy my hobbies with my family, then do what I’ve always wanted to do in a consulting capacity?”

Its amazing how much interest there is, which is exciting,” added Shumaker, who plans to remain in the Richmond area. “Martin is doing very well … it seemed like a good time.”

Cavallo indicated that the agency will soon announce the promotion of a new CMO from within. Shumaker plans to formally introduce his consultancy in the coming months.

One party noted that most of the executives who helped lure him back to Martin last September after a stint as FCB’s global CMO are no longer with the agency. After Adweek broke the news that Alexander’s firing followed multiple accusations of sexual harassment over a period of several years, Cavallo told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that, while she had not encountered any misogyny while working there from 1998 to 2011, she also had “no reason to doubt” his accusers.