Los Angeles independent agency/consultancy Phenomenon has a new industry veteran to lead client relationships, hiring Sandy Song in the newly created position of chief client officer.
“In an industry where clients are the lifeblood, and at this stage in our evolution, we felt it necessary to have executive leadership that advocated for, worked on behalf of, and focused exclusively on client satisfaction and retention,” Phenomenon founder and CEO Krish Menon said in a statement. “We’re pleased to have her fresh perspectives and lucky to have Sandy join our team.”
Menon explained that the agency added the chief client officer out of a perceived need for the ad industry to employ “a better standard of client care,” and to innovate how it services and advocates for clients, adding, “We need standards and practices that go beyond the norm. This role will help define and implement those.”
Song will be responsible for partnering with clients across Phenomenon’s roster, ensuring there are curated teams to service each business, with a focus on talent growth, development and representation with the understanding that variety across professional and personal backgrounds is critical to informing work for clients.
“My goal is to enable and empower our gifted creative minds to do what they do best—bring to life, unexpected, solutions-oriented, results-driven strategies for our clients,” Song said in a statement. “I’m excited to contribute in a meaningful way and am very much looking forward to unleashing the potential that I know we have.”
Song started working with Phenomenon as a consultant at the beginning of the year.
“From day one, even as a consultant, Sandy’s personality, experience and wisdom was on full display to our executive team. She gels with us like she’s been here since the beginning; she’s smart, thoughtful and strategic,” Menon told AgencySpy. “Her experience running major clients and running offices is a critical addition to our management team.”
Prior to working with Phenomenon as a consultant, Song spent around three years at 180LA, most recently serving as managing director after a stint as group brand director. Earlier in her career, she spent over four years as an account director with 180LA, before moving on to account director roles at Deutsch and Blitz. Over the course of her career, she has worked across clients including Del Monte Foods, Honda, Lexus International, Mitsubishi, PepsiCo, Taco Bell, University of Phoenix and Visa.
“It’s as if my entire career path has prepared me for this moment,” Song told AgencySpy, explaining that the role “takes everything I’ve learned and built from past experiences and allows me to be laser-focused on the two most important aspects of our business, our clients and our people.”
“Phenomenon is a very different, highly specialized shop, with offerings and thinking that sets us apart from other agencies,” Song said, adding that the challenges of her role included fully understanding that uniqueness and finding strategic opportunities to bolster clients’ business.
Arriving in the new role amid the coronavirus pandemic, of course, adds its share of extra challenges.
“The stay home orders add another layer of complexity, having to do everything virtually and not being able to spend one-on-one time getting to know individuals on a personal level. At a business level, client budgets across the board are slashed. Pitches are virtual. The magic of building relationships in person has shifted online,” Song explained. “We’ve managed to successfully adapt but look forward to looking back on this time.”
She added that clients are at a crossroads with the acceleration of digital and ecommerce, estimating it will “take months, if not years, to address around ‘in home’ culture,” while strategic media planning will “need to continue to evolve” and find “better ways to reach people where they are.”
Phenomenon has seen its share of disruption over the past year or so.
Berggruen Holdings and Sleeping Bear Capital acquired a majority stake in Phenomenon last year. A little over a year ago, Intuit ended its relationship with Phenomenon, which had served as brand agency of record, leading to a round of layoffs. Last October, Phenomenon went through a further round of layoffs. Last July, Phenomenon president Erica Hoholick left the agency as Mehon stepped into a more active day-to-day leadership role. Hoholick later joined 22squared as chief client officer.
At the beginning of 2020, CCO Linda Knight left Phenomenon to join Stagwell Group’s Observatory (the agency formerly known as CAA Marketing) in the same role.