Chris Howatson (main photo) has quit his post as CEO of CHE Proximity and CEO of Clemenger Group’s Australian agencies to launch his own start-up.
CHEP’s executive creative director Ant White (pictured below) will also be leaving the agency to team with Howatson. B&T understands the new agency will be called Howatson+White.
News of the start-up follows a bittersweet 2020 for Howatson and CHEP.
The agency was hit particularly hard when COVID stuck earlier in the year, losing clients and forcing a number of staff layoffs.
Yet, the agency was a standout at the B&T Awards only 10 days ago taking home five awards including Best Media Campaign, Best Data Driven Marketing Campaign, Victorian Agency Of The Year, Marketing Tech Company Of The Year and Direct Response/Performance Agency Of The Year.
CHEP also managed to land some very big wins for 2020 including Samsung and 7-Eleven.
However, B&T understands the “win at all costs” pitch to snare the Samsung business caused a rift between Howatson and Clemenger BBDO chair, Robert Morgan.
However, Morgan acknowledged the contribution of Howatson to the Group in a statement to media yesterday afternoon.
“Chris has shown fantastic leadership at CHE Proximity over the past eight years and prior to that with Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne and Brisbane. He has certainly made the most of the opportunity to run CHE Proximity and has built a fantastic Agency,” Morgan said.
“He leaves CHE Proximity in safe hands and I trust the Agency will continue to do exciting, new age and innovative work and solutions for our clients, as we head into 2021 and in the coming years.
“We thank him for all he has done for the Clemenger Group and the support he has given the Board and our companies over many years.”
“We also recognise Ant for his great creative leadership at CHE Proximity over the past five years. He has led a powerful creative offering which has been a driving force behind some of the Agency’s most successful campaigns in recent years.”
Howatson added: “CHE Proximity and Clemenger Group has been my life for the last 19 years. I’ve learned from the very best people, worked on the very best clients, and been steered by the very best in Robert Morgan. I’m grateful for every opportunity I’ve been afforded and know the team will continue CHEP’s insatiable appetite for innovation and creative excellence.”
The agency will continue under the leadership of its strong management team, consisting of Andrew Drougas, Renee Hyde, Martin Griffin, David Halter, Mark Gretton, Michelle Brooks, James Greaney, Nicole Flinton-Ferraro, Glen Dickson, Cameron Hoelter, Helen James and Mike Deane.
Howatson will remain with CHE Proximity until the end of February to enable a smooth transition with the agency’s management team.
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