New Agency Plans to Hire Military Veterans

Ayni Brigade's founders include one

The founders of a new agency unveiled Tuesday plan to focus their hiring efforts primarily on military veterans.

The shop, named Ayni Brigade, brings together CEO Mark Russell and creative vp Sherry Russell, both alum of Syracuse, N.Y.-based Eric Mower + Associates, with chief operating officer Brian Hollyfield, himself a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot, who also has been a COO at JWT North America and Atmosphere BBDO.

"We saw an opportunity in the market to do well by doing good," Russell said. He added that the agency's co-founders think they can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging the skills veterans have built in the course of military service.

News of the launch comes amid broader efforts, led by former ad agency leaders Ed Vick and Rick Boyko, to recruit military veterans into the industry. Six years ago, Tom Messner also called for such a recruitment drive in a speech at the 4A's management conference.

Russell cited intelligence gathering, tactical execution and familiarity with emerging technology as some of the experience that veterans would be able apply to the advertising agency's clients. "The only area that we will be a little more loose in hiring is in the creative space," said Russell.

Russell declined to name any clients serviced by the new agency, which will focus on digital and events marketing. It has yet to hire any additional staffers, but is in the process of interviewing, he said. The agency plans to have offices in New York and in Dallas. 

Ayni, the first half of the agency's new name, is a reference to the reciprocal practice by which members of traditional indigenous communities in the Andean region of South America assist each other. Mark and Sherry Russell, who are married, first encountered the philosophy while hiking Macchu Picchu in Peru with their two daughters.