CPB has finalized its new leadership team as the MDC-owned agency continues to rebuild. Following the recent appointment of former GSD&M President Marianne Malina as global CEO, the company has named Momentum Senior VP-Director of Strategy Abbie Baehr its new chief strategy officer, and has also tapped former Battery Head of Production Danielle Tarris to serve in the same role. Also, longtime CPB veteran Jason Pierce steps into the newly-created position of head of creative diversity.
The appointments are the latest in the agency’s attempt to remake itself after an especially tumultuous year that saw the loss of major accounts Infiniti and Domino’s, as well as the departures of senior-level execs, including a team of creatives who switched to Domino’s new creative agency, WorkInProgress.
The leadership team also includes former Activision exec Jorge Calleja, the new chief creative officer who joined the agency in January; Director of Account Management Jacqueline Redmond; and Ryan Skubic, the CPB vet who continues in his role as managing director.
While at Momentum, Baehr oversaw strategic development across North America, and co-led the agency’s esports and gaming practice, working with clients such as Walmart, Verizon, American Express and Coca-Cola. At Battery, Tarris led production on campaigns for brands such as Netflix, Activision and the L.A. Clippers. She returns to the MDC family having also previously served as head of production at 72andSunny Amsterdam, where she worked with clients such as Google, Smirnoff and O’Neill.
Pierce has served as creative director for CPB for five years, overseeing brands including Vrbo, Infiniti, 1800 Tequila and Goose Island Beer Co. He will continue in his creative duties while in his new role, and is tasked with instilling diverse thought and voices into all aspects of the agency, including recruiting, culture, creative and production.
Along with the new leaders, CPB has brought on other new talents, including Strategy Director Vicente Cortina, who last worked in Mexico City as CMO of Fitzer Agua Mineral Brava, the first hard seltzer in Latin America; Creative Director Dana Angelo, a former comedy writer at UCB and Second City, who moves from Sid Lee; Associate Creative Directors Jorge González and Agustín Acosta, a longtime Uruguayan team who previously served in Brazil at Leo Burnett, Grey, Ogilvy and MullenLowe; Associate Creative Director Yashas Mitta, who has worked in New York, Singapore and India at companies including MediaMonks, IRIS and Tribal Worldwide; and Associate Creative Director Meghan Puhr, who comes from R&R Partners and also served at TBWA, McCann and Optimist.
Together, the new leaders and staff bring a diverse, multinational and multicultural range of perspectives to the agency team, one that may seem different from the CPB of the past.
“Our leadership team feels dramatically different, and that is on purpose,” Malina says. “We’re creating an agency that is diverse from the top down. Ultimately, it’s about creating a culture of trust. You want to be able to see it and feel safe in it and do the best work in your career. That starts with ourselves, and we’re creating a place that comes from this ideal.”
But the new leaders say they’re all driven by the ambition, spirit and innovation that built the CPB brand.
“One of the things that made CPB a legacy brand is that they were beholden to nothing in the way they went about solving problems,” says Malina. “Everyone on this team now is the best at what they do but they are also builders and entrepreneurs. We get to take on not just building brands but also change an industry, break down barriers, improve the talent model.”
“The first thing that drove me to make this move is I’ve always been a huge fan of the CPB brand,” says Calleja. “It’s hard to ignore what CPB ignited in all of us 20 years ago. This was a very defined culture, and now we get to define what it is moving forward.”
As for what kind of brands the agency is looking to go forward with, Baehr points to those who want to be brave in building. “Last year, a lot of brands got really scared about what they could and couldn’t do. I want to work with brands who see the opportunity in the future, who know after crisis can come great renewal. We want to be part of their renewal, and they will be part of ours.”
“I think every agency on the planet is questioning themselves right now,” Calleja adds. “Are we a content provider, an entertainment maker, purpose-driven? The truth is, we need to question everything in our industry now in order to survive.”