R/GA Hires Former Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand CEO to Run Its L.A. Office

Nicky Bell is known as "The Fixer"

Headshot of Patrick Coffee

R/GA, or "the company for the Connected Age," has hired Nicola "Nicky" Bell to lead its Los Angeles office in the role of SVP, managing director.

She brings 25 years of agency experience to the job after holding leadership positions in Australia, New York and New Zealand, most recently spending six years as CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand.

Moving forward, Bell will be responsible for expanding the office, which aspires to become a global hub for the larger network, and overseeing the launch of unnamed "new capabilities" while managing relationships with current clients. R/GA L.A. created the Emmy Award-nominated "Love Has No Labels" campaign, and it currently produces work for Nike, Western Digital, the L.A. Dodgers and other major clients.

Bell will report directly to U.S. president Sean Lyons, who said, "Nicky is a proven leader. She's transformed cultures, refocused and realigned agency capabilities, and contributed to significant growth of client businesses." Lyons added, "R/GA has big plans for its Los Angeles office, and Nicky is exactly the right person to deliver on them."

The new manager spent the first 18 years of her career with Ogilvy & Mather, working on accounts in Sydney and serving as a senior partner and worldwide managing director in New York. While there, she helped run global teams working on the Dove, Kodak, Motorola and Avon accounts.

Bell later left Ogilvy to lead Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand, and she became colloquially known as "The Fixer" for helping the office overcome a particularly challenging period. While there, she helped the Saatchi team update its tech capabilities and led winning pitches for Coca-Cola, Air New Zealand and the New Zealand government's Commission for Financial Capability. Her January resignation made headlines in local trade publications, with StopPress reporting, "It didn't take long for Bell's impact at the agency to be felt."

In the release announcing her departure, Bell wrote, "I'm so proud of the transformation we were able to drive within the business and our culture."

R/GA's newest hire has also established herself as an advocate for women and young people in the ad industry and beyond. She has given speeches on breaking generational stereotypes in the workplace to various businesses and government organizations including New Zealand's police and armed forces.

"I am thrilled to be joining R/GA," Bell said in a statement. "With technology changing consumer behavior faster than ever, the R/GA Los Angeles team is perfectly positioned to reimagine the role of technology in the art of storytelling. They are a hugely talented, progressive-thinking team. It's good to be here."

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.