Barbarian Group Chairman Benjamin Palmer Leaves the Agency After 14 Years

Co-founder steps down to 'explore'

Three months after New York's Barbarian Group parted ways with CEO Sophie Kelly, chairman Benjamin Palmer has left the agency he co-founded after 14 years.

Palmer announced his departure this morning via a post on his Instagram account, writing, "I am so proud of what we have done here, but it's time for a new adventure for me. I'm not leaving you for anything specific, just gonna explore and make some rad shit."

"The Barbarian Group would not be here today without Benjamin and he's helped build the culture of unexpected and bold creativity that we have today," said Barbarian Group CEO and former Cheil Worldwide executive Peter Kim in a statement. "This spirit lives on as we continue to work with some of the world's most exciting brands and talented people. We are grateful for his contributions and look forward to seeing what magic he makes on the Internet—or in other realms—next."

Cheil, which also owns McKinney, acquired a majority stake in The Barbarian Group in 2009. Of the six partners who co-founded the agency in 2001, only owner and chief experience officer Keith Butters remains.

Palmer made a name for himself around the ad industry for his agency's creative stunts, its work on campaigns like Burger King's "Subservient Chicken" and its 4,400-square-foot "SuperDesk" in addition to his friendships with various celebrities and influencers outside the world of advertising. Beyond his duties with Barbarian, he served as president of New York's Art Directors Club from 2008 to 2014 and currently sits on the board of New York experimental performance space The Kitchen. Palmer also co-founded Brooklyn's Empire Mayonnaise Company (a business that sells only artisanal mayo) with his wife Elizabeth Valleau, who is currently a lead creative director with Grey Group's activation team.

While Palmer has not been directly involved in the agency's day-to-day operations for some time, The Barbarian Group has continued to produce work under chief creative officer Edu Pou such as the recent Crystal Pepsi relaunch, a video game-themed campaign for Brisk iced tea, an IBM ad highlighting the company's cloud computing technology and the workout app Runkeeper.

Cheil Worldwide does not plan to replace Palmer in the chairman role.