Barbarian Group Taps R/GA’s Zasa as ECD

The Barbarian Group has recruited R/GA’s Jay Zasa to serve as the shop’s first executive creative director.
Zasa, 41, was an ecd at R/GA, where he worked on Nokia, Chapstick and other accounts during his five-year tenure. At TBG, Zasa will lead the shop’s creative department as it looks to expand from digital boutique into a larger, full-service operation. Cheil Worldwide acquired TBG last December. It has since merged its U.S. digital operations with TBG’s, growing the shop’s staff from 70 to 95. Korea-based Cheil hopes to use the agency as a springboard into the U.S. market.
Zasa will partner with TBG co-founder and CEO Benjamin Palmer in setting the creative direction for the shop.
“I couldn’t do everything myself anymore,” said Palmer. “We’ve grown a lot. The reason we did the deal with Cheil is we wanted to grow and take on bigger work. We have a lot more bigger projects and clients than we did in the past.”
As part of Cheil, TBG has begun working for Samsung, which owns an 18 percent stake in the ad company.

TBG’s recent notable creative efforts include working with Esquire on its augmented reality issue last November. As a side project, the company built, a site that tells people how many times they need to visit a location to become mayor on Foursquare.
Prior to joining R/GA in 2005, Zasa spent six years at Ogilvy Interactive. He began his career as a copywriter at
“I’m looking forward to the idea of going to a smaller place with a strong culture and a cohesive group of people,” he said.
At R/GA, Zasa led creative on the controversial “Amp Up Before You Score” iPhone app for PepsiCo brand Amp. It was subsequently removed from the iTunes Store after complaints it was sexist in its portrayal of women.
“Their work is fearlessness,” said Zasa of TBG’s creative approach. “They’ve always been pushing barriers and [they are] not afraid of coming up with an interesting way of leveraging technology creatively. That’s the kind of stuff I’m interested in.”