Saatchi & Saatchi UK has announced Chris Kay as its new CEO of the agency as Sam Hawkey leaves.
Kay joins from 72andSunny where, for the past three and a half years, he was CEO for Asia Pacific and a global partner. Prior to moving to Australia to set up the APAC region’s Sydney and Singapore offices, he led the LA office for four years.
Kay started his career in advertising in 2000 after leaving his hometown of Burnley to move to London and join TBWA. He will join Saatchi & Saatchi on 1 November 2021.
During his time in LA, 72andSunny doubled in size winning global business from Google, adidas, Instagram, Starbucks, Miller Coors and Samsung, and employing more than 450 people. The agency was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies for two years in a row and won more golds at the 2016 Effies than any other agency globally.
Hawkey departs after nine years’ service. He was promoted to CEO in 2020 after working his way up through the agency he joined as an account manager. It was his decision to leave.
Magnus Djaba, global president of Saatchi & Saatchi, and CEO of the creative practice for Publicis Groupe UK, said: “I was once told talent is something you don’t own, you borrow. So, you must nurture it and when the time comes for it to go, you must ensure you return it in a better place than when you received it. I feel we have done that with Sam. I’m proud and excited for him to take his next step.”
“At Saatchi, we have to be creative entrepreneurs, driven by a restlessness to improve ourselves, to find new and diverse answers, to find out how good we can be. I’ve known Chris for almost two decades and that is what he does. I’m excited to see how he changes us for the better and I hope, like all great relationships, we can do the same for him.”
Kay said: “I’m returning to the UK for the job not the move. Even the weather couldn’t stop me jumping at the opportunity to help steer the next 50 years for this iconic agency. I can’t wait to get stuck in with the team, our client partners, and collaborators, to make creative work that shapes culture, represents Britain today, and keeps the Saatchi & Saatchi name synonymous with pushing our industry forward.”
Hawkey said: “Saatchi has been my extended family for nearly 10 years and in many ways, I grew up here. At every turn they have created a place that allowed me to try things, challenge things and change things, and for that I will be eternally grateful. It is a place full of opportunity and wonderful people who I will miss a lot.”
Kay joined 72andSunny from BMF in Sydney where he was managing partner. He was previously at Manchester City Football Club where he was head of marketing as the club became a global brand and won the Premier League for the first time. He spent eight years at Fallon during its halcyon years of Sony ‘Balls’, Cadbury ‘Gorilla’, and ‘It’s a Skoda Honest’. At Fallon, he launched Happen, a joint venture with Naked, which won a Gold Integrated Lion in its first year for its Tate Tracks campaign for Tate Modern.
He recently authored a book about how people work post-pandemic called ‘Reset Inc: A Handbook for the Future of Work’, which trended as an Amazon bestseller.
The rest of the Saatchi & Saatchi London leadership line-up is unchanged with Richard Huntington as chairman and chief strategy officer, Guillermo Vega as chief creative officer and Sarah Jenkins as managing director.
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