R/GA Adds AKQA’s Cavalletti as S.F. ECD

NEW YORK R/GA found a familiar face to lead its San Francisco outpost due to open next month.
Mauro Cavalletti is returning to R/GA as executive creative director after three years at other shops, including Organic and most recently AKQA, where he was group creative director.
Cavalletti, 46, begins work at R/GA in mid-May, when it will open in San Francisco. The West Coast outpost is the New York-based agency’s third office, following its expansion to London about two years ago.
“He’s extraordinary at creative, technology and user experience,” said Bob Greenberg, CEO of R/GA. “It’s all the things we need and want to get. He’s a real manager and can handle large clients.”
R/GA is looking at office space in San Francisco that could house as many as 80 employees, Greenberg said. By the end of 2008, the shop expects roughly 25-30 workers. R/GA has more than 600 employees in New York and 30 in London.
“We opened in San Francisco not based on business but based on talent,” he said. “Talent is the biggest issue facing agencies today. It’s the biggest open creative and technology talent pool other than New York.”
While Greenberg sees AKQA as R/GA’s main rival, he said the shop would not specifically target talent from there.
“It’s not so much the agencies but the Yahoo!s and Googles,” he said. “All the technology companies have many potential hires for us.”
Cavalletti’s departure is the second recent high-level creative loss for independent AKQA. In February, San Francisco evd P.J. Pereira departed with president Andrew O’Dell to begin a new agency, subsequently opened as Pereira & O’Dell and backed by $30 million in funding from Brazilian banks.
At AKQA, Cavalletti worked on several accounts, including Target, Method and Kraft. He led Organic’s user experience practice in both New York and San Francisco from 2005-06. At R/GA, Cavalletti rose from senior interaction designer to interaction design director to creative director from 1999 to 2005.
Cavalletti will initially work on Nike at R/GA, along with new clients the office acquires. He will report to Nick Law, R/GA’s chief creative officer for North America. R/GA has also landed two local clients that Greenberg declined to name.
“It’s not just San Francisco and London,” Greenberg said. “We’re going to go beyond that. You’re going to see a move to a new model that’s global.”