Hill Holliday said Thursday it has hired Icaro Doria as its new chief creative officer.
Doria joins the full-service creative agency, owned by IPG, from Havas Health & You, where he had a brief stint as global chief creative officer for the past nine months. Previously he was U.S. chief creative officer at Arnold Worldwide and a founding partner and CCO at Wieden + Kennedy São Paulo.
Icaro is leaving the global role at Havas to join Boston-based Hill Holliday.
“I had the desire to go back to leading a creative department and be closer to the work, because that's where I'm happiest,” he said.
He was also drawn to Hill Holliday as a “legendary shop with personality,” he said. “There's a distinctive approach to being who they are,” he added.
Doria, who will start on Feb. 1, is eager to get Hill Holliday back to creating “ambitious ideas,” which he describes as “ideas that can be bigger than the media we buy” and that “allow people to think way beyond the structures of how advertising behaves.”
In order to do that, he will work closely with Hill Holliday’s in-house media department, which the agency is investing in this year as clients seek more integrated work.
Hill Holliday launched an extensive search for a new chief creative officer after Lance Jensen, who held the role at the agency for the past decade, left earlier this month.
The firm interviewed 47 candidates, many of whom were also in global chief creative officer roles and wanted to get back to being closer to the work, said Hill Holliday chairman and CEO Karen Kaplan.
“You get this deep into your career and you're like, I want to do what I love to do with people I love to do it with,” she said. “Wanting to stay close to the work, when you're 25-plus years into the business, I don't think is uncommon.”
For Hill Holliday, hiring Doria is part of a larger bet to reclaim its legacy as a creative powerhouse in the industry. In recent years, the agency has lost decadeslong clients including Dunkin’, which moved to BBDO Worldwide in 2018, and John Hancock which picked Deloitte Digital’s Heat in 2017.
“We need to get back to some of the scrappiness and swagger we've built the agency on,” Kaplan said. “We were doing well, and it's hard to make changes when you're doing well. We took our eye off the ball and the work, which was always the center of gravity.”
In addition to reinvesting in creative and media, Hill Holliday is doubling down on decision science to understand the true business impact work can have on clients' businesses, said president Chris Wallrapp.
“They don't just want data,” he said. “They want insights that make an economic difference, and the ability to translate that data into something powerful for their business.”
After the events of 2020, Hill Holliday is expecting a lot of new business opportunities, especially on the healthcare side, where Doria will bring a unique expertise from his time at Havas Health & You. Hill Holliday has been building out its healthcare practice, Hill Holliday Health, adding four new clients and seven new brands over the past year.
“Pharma clients specifically speak a different language because of the need to understand the science,” Doria said. “You need to do that to understand and deploy creativity that will resonate.”