TBWA\Chiat\Day: Leadership changes

(Erin Riley, Jen Costello)

TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles today announced the elevation of Erin Riley to Chief Executive Officer and Jen Costello (We like this name) to Chief Strategy Officer.

The promotions follow a year of reckoning and transformation for the creative industry, during which TBWA\Chiat\Day LA met the challenges and saw exceptional growth in new business, with the agency recently winning including Discover, Moderna, Behr Paint, AT&T TV and Schwan’s Company, including its Red Baron and Freschetta pizza brands.

“Erin is an extraordinary leader who has helped our clients and the agency navigate challenging times and come out the other end smarter and stronger,” said Troy Ruhanen, CEO of TBWA\Worldwide. “She’s a brilliant business mind who leads with humanity, and I have absolute confidence she will continue to lead Chiat LA into an exceptionally strong next chapter.”

Riley and Costello have been accelerating a change agenda since 2020, alongside Chiat’s leadership team, turning TBWA’s methodology of Disruption on themselves to rebuild the agency’s foundation for a modern and inclusive era of creativity.

Both will tell you there’s much more to do. Over the last 12 months, TBWA\Chiat\Day LA has invested in new and evolved practice areas including its design division, which created the United Nation’s COVID design system, a purpose-driven consultancy, which helped clients navigate the pandemic using Purpose as a north star, a Multicultural Practice upending the idea of a ‘general market’ synonymous with whiteness that’s helped brands navigate their role with its two Racial Injustice Response Guides, and a B2B division specializing in highly complex businesses.

As a driver for recent wins and client growth, strategy was another major investment area. Under Costello’s leadership, and in partnership with TBWA\Worldwide Global Chief Strategy Agathe Guerrier, the group focused on using commercial understanding to amplify their hallmark disruptive creativity and iconic experiences.

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Over the last year, the agency doubled its data and analytics group, brought in social platform experts, installed its first Business Intelligence lead, and appointed its first Head of Connections to lead the agency’s Media Arts practice.

Riley and Costello have also been at the forefront of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at TBWA\Chiat\Day LA. Through training, established affinity groups and inclusive hiring practices like ‘Disrupting Recruiting’ to eliminate unconscious bias in the process, the agency has dramatically increased diversity across all levels and departments, with 64% of new hires in 2021 from diverse backgrounds.

Their dedication and impact on the agency’s culture has created an environment where all employees can thrive through programs that cultivate talent and give back to the community. Earlier this year, TBWA\Chiat\Day LA partnered with Compton Girls Club and its client QuickBooks to create an incubator series that helped 11 young diverse women become entrepreneurs.

“Jen is an exceptionally dimensional strategist who is architecting our offering across data analytics, cultural insight, and behavioral intelligence,” said Riley. “She is an innovator, storyteller, and fortuneteller all in one. Her intellect is only matched by her humanity which is why she is exactly the right leader for this moment. I feel privileged to have her as my partner.”

Erin joined TBWA\Chiat\Day LA as President in 2016 from Gap Inc. She’s worked both client and agency side with leadership stints at BBH, Old Navy and Cole Haan. Amid the challenges of 2020, the agency’s surge is a testament to Riley’s dedication, leadership, and business acumen.

Since joining in 2013 from The Martin Agency, Costello has risen the ranks at Chiat\Day and been a driving force in creating iconic platforms and Disruptive creative for brands including Airbnb, Uniqlo, Google Play, Blue Diamond and Peak Games.

She’s helped modernize core strategic disciplines and implemented programs that impact culture and scale talent. One example is the introduction of a program that makes a certified mini-MBA available to all agency talent.

“Jen is a remarkable unicorn who brings empathy to her teams, clarity to our clients, and points of view to every conversation. She’s a fantastic business thinker, an ambitious creative strategist, and what’s more, she makes it all look easy,” said Guerrier.

Added Ruhanen, “Jen elevates the practice of Disruption by combining rigor, cultural relevance, and imagination with the desire to discover the new. With Erin and the team TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles will be unstoppable.”

Reel 360 wishes Jen and Erin the best of luck in their new roles at TBWA\Chiat\Day.