R/GA undergoes structural leadership changes as CEO departs

Credit: IPG
Credit: IPG

Global CEO Sean Lyons has exited the company to join Accenture Song in a new role; Tiffany Rolfe has been named global chair of the digital agency upon his departure.

R/GA is undergoing a leadership shift as global CEO Sean Lyons departs the IPG-owned digital agency for a global role at Accenture Song. 

On Monday, Accenture Song said Lyons will join the company in May as global capabilities lead, a new role at the agency, where he will be responsible for integrating its technology, communications and intelligence offerings and improving creative output. 

He will report to Accenture Song CEO David Droga and will join its global leadership team based in New York. 

In the wake of Lyons’ exit, R/GA and IPG announced that global chief creative officer Tiffany Rolfe will be promoted to global chair of R/GA, where she will be responsible for building the  company vision, culture and business leadership, according to an IPG press release. 

Meanwhile, global chief client officer Robin Forbes will take on the role of interim CEO at R/GA until a replacement is selected. Both will report to IPG CEO Philippe Krakowsky effective immediately. 

R/GA continues its search for a permanent CEO. 

The news comes as R/GA faces stunted growth, declined investment, headcount reduction and executive departures in the past year. 

In October 2022, the agency announced a restructure in response to a softening market for digital agencies. The new structure aimed to enable “distributed creativity,” Lyons said, or shift the focus to integrated teams versus siloed teams across offices, Ad Age reported. 

The announcement followed R/GA laying off 5% of its New York staff in June, as well as a subpar IPG Q3 2022 earnings report which cited R/GA and sister digital agency Huge as weighing down results in the holding company's digital and commerce sector. At the time, AdAge reported that R/GA had lost between $7 million and $10 million from crypto and NFT-related work. 

The shakeup has not led to improved forecasts for 2023. On its Q4 and full-year 2022 earnings call on Thursday, Feb. 7, IPG reported Huge and R/GA will continue to weigh on growth in the first half of 2023 as they evolve to meet changing client needs. 

Four days earlier, on Feb. 3, R/GA global CMO Ashish Prashar departed the agency, passing on marketing oversight to chief growth officer Alex Sehnaoui while the agency searches for a replacement.As Rolfe and Forbes take over leadership of the agency, once a darling of the IPG portfolio, they are focused on building on recent changes and implementing their “distributed creativity” model to reinvigorate the agency, according to a press release. 

Accenture Song declined to provide further comment about Lyons’ hire beyond a statement: 

“Sean is a formidable force and someone I have admired professionally for a long time. He’s as talented and relevant as he is humble and sincere,” Droga said. "We are beyond thrilled to have him join us and excited to see what he can do at the world's largest tech-powered creative company."  

R/GA did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication. 


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