Interpublic named Kristen Cavallo as the first female chief executive officer of the Martin Agency in Richmond. Cavallo, most recently U.S. chief strategy and growth officer at MullenLowe in Boston, will succeed current CEO Matt Williams, effective immediately.
The leadership change comes in the middle of a sexual harassment shakedown that is impacting Martin Agency directly, the ad industry, the production community, clients, and every facet of public life. Earlier this month, the Martin Agency dismissed its chief creative officer, Joe Alexander. The dismissal followed allegations of multiple instances of sexual harassment over the course of approximately 20 years, which Alexander denies.
In a statement from the company, Cavallo said of her new role:
This is an important moment. I want people to feel the possibilities that exist for this agency. They are talking about us, but soon I hope they are rooting for us. As a strategist, I love opportunities for transformation, and feel fortunate to play a part, with the full support of Interpublic and its leadership, to help re-write the ending of this chapter. Obviously, there is a need for a new direction, and the culture has to evolve. To be the first female CEO of this agency, in this year, under these circumstances – the weight of this isn’t lost on me. It’s going to be hard, but we can do hard things. As a mom, I want my kids to see that, and to set an example that resilience and possibility matter.
Martin Agency is a marquis brand in the agency business. I expect to see more agencies and more businesses in every industry shift their dead male weight to the curb. Meanwhile, women continue to bring their tenacity and intelligence to the table.
IPG chairman and CEO Michael Roth, a biased participant in these proceedings, said, “The Martin Agency has established its place as a storied brand, serving great clients and producing some of the industry’s most awarded creative work. Kristen spent her formative years at the agency, so she knows how special a place it can be.”
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