R/GA Hires ‘Like a Girl’ Creative Away From Leo Burnett, Promotes 2 ECDs

By Patrick Coffee 

R/GA Chicago has hired A.J. Hassan as its newest executive creative director.

The ad veteran joins the IPG shop after spending nearly 17 years with Leo Burnett, where she served as VP/creative director. Hassan recently spearheaded the massively successful Always “Like a Girl” campaign, which has earned nearly 90 million views on various platforms in addition to a slew of media attention and attendant awards from Cannes, D&D and the Emmys, among others.

In the new position, she will work closely with ECD/experience design specialist Dinesh Goburdhunwho joined the shop last summer after working as an independent consultant, an associate partner at nearby VSA and an adjunct professor at the IIT Institute of Design. She will report directly to VP/managing director Jeff Brecker as well as Chloe Gottlieb and Taras Wayner, both of whom were simultaneously promoted to the U.S. EVP/ECD position this week.


Global chief creative officer Nick Law calls Hassan “a world class talent with an impressive body of work,” adding, “We’re all looking forward to working with her, Dinesh, and the team in the great city of Chicago.”

Regarding her new job, she says, “I’m thrilled to join the Chicago office as R/GA is a storied agency, one that has from inception had a deft vision and aptitude for weaving technology and creativity together to create iconic work for some of the world’s great brands.”

Hassan joined Leo Burnett in 1999 after working as a copywriter at FCB. Beyond Always, she has created several prominent campaigns in recent years including Secret’s “Mean Stinks” and Esurance’s #EqualDreams, which preceded the Supreme Court’s summer decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. Last year, AdAge named her the industry’s most-awarded copywriter.

A Leo Burnett spokesperson writes: “During her 16 years at the agency, A.J. has contributed greatly to Leo Burnett’s creative firepower. Although her talents will be greatly missed, we wish her well in all future endeavors.”


Gottlieb and Wayner have both spent several years with the R/GA organization. Wayner joined the Manhattan office as ECD in 2007 to work on Google, Nokia, Verizon and other accounts while managing related teams; previous gigs include creative director duties at Y&R New York and Berlin Cameron.

R/GA hired Gottlieb for the second time in 2006 to lead the Nokia teams in New York and London. She’d previously spent four years in the agency’s New York office as a design director before joining Razorfish’s experience department, where she worked on the Conde Nast and Mercedes accounts.

R/GA Chicago launched in 2010 to better serve Midwestern clients like Sears. It quickly began staffing up on the creative side and continues to expand, announcing such strategic hires as that of executive production director Charles Chung in recent months.