Growing Special Group U.S. Appoints Managing Director and Head of Strategy

By Kyle O'Brien 

Special Group U.S., which made a splash with its Uber Eats Super Bowl commercial, is expanding its leadership team, hiring Caroline Jackson as managing director and Kelsey Hodgkin as head of strategy.

The two will join as partners with chief creative officer William Gelner, who launched the U.S. office of the New Zealand-founded independent agency in 2020.

Australia native Jackson joins Special Group U.S. from IPG’s Elephant, where she was managing director for the West Coast and led brands including Apple and Beats by Dre. Hodgkin was previously chief strategy officer at Deutsch LA, where she led strategy for the Target, Taco Bell and Walmart accounts.


Both Jackson and Hodgkin will support founding agency client Uber Eats and engage with new clients as the agency continues to grow its North American presence.

“We could not be more thrilled to have Caroline and Kelsey complete our leadership team,” said Gelner. “Caroline embodies our agency’s values—open, kind and brave—along with the energy and ambition to create something new, during the biggest inflection point in our industry.” 

Special Group was founded in New Zealand in 2007, adding a Sydney office in 2014 and Melbourne in 2020. Special Group U.S. was in operation for only a few short months in 2020 before being entrusted with helping to create Uber Eats’ first-ever Super Bowl campaign, which combined Wayne’s World with rap superstar Cardi B, and kicked off a $20 million restaurant-relief program.

The Uber Eats partnership with Special Group began in 2017 and has expanded around the globe, notably with a campaign including sparring stars Mark Hamill and Sir Patrick Stewart.