Martin Agency’s Danny Robinson promoted to CEO

DannyRobinson2

Robinson in the lobby of The Martin Agency’s Shockoe Slip headquarters. (BizSense file photos)

A changing of the guard is underway at The Martin Agency, where longtime executive and current chief creative officer Danny Robinson was announced Tuesday as the downtown ad firm’s next CEO.

Robinson, who has held a variety of leadership roles at Martin in his nearly 20 years with the agency, was appointed to the post by Interpublic Group, Martin’s New York-based parent company.

He succeeds Kristen Cavallo, Martin’s chief executive for the past six years who has been pulling double-duty since being named in late 2022 as global CEO of IPG’s MullenLowe Group, the international agency where she previously worked.

Kristen Cavallo

Kristen Cavallo

Where Cavallo was the first woman to lead Martin in the role, Robinson’s promotion breaks more ground for the agency with the appointment of its first black CEO. In 2020, Robinson broke down similar barriers when he was named CCO, succeeding Karen Costello, the first female in that post.

Robinson’s replacement as CCO is to be announced next month.

Prior to that role, Robinson served two years as chief client officer, a new-to-Martin role that was created just for him after nearly 14 years as a group creative director and senior vice president. Previously the co-founder and CCO of New York agency Vigilante, Robinson was recruited by Mike Hughes, the late Martin creative director and president.

Robinson’s credits at Vigilante included helping to develop the now-famous Pontiac giveaways on The Oprah Winfrey Show, immortalized by the host’s “You get a car!” refrain.

MartinAgency

The Martin Agency’s Shockoe Slip headquarters.

At Martin, Robinson’s work over the years has touched on accounts such as Walmart, Chevrolet, Tic Tac and Oreo. In his three and a half years as CCO, Robinson has overseen such work as a brand transformation for UPS at New York Fashion Week and, most recently, a viral campaign for Solo Stove that featured Snoop Dogg.

He helped lead Martin to repeat in 2021 as Adweek’s U.S. Agency of the Year, making it one of three ad agencies to win that award back-to-back years. Last year, fellow industry trade publication AdAge named Martin its 2023 Agency of the Year.

In Tuesday’s announcement, IPG CEO Philippe Krakowsky called Robinson “a creative visionary” who “knows our business, our clients, and the industry.”

Describing Martin as having “consistently demonstrated that its talented people can create the kinds of ideas and creative platforms that build and power iconic brands,” Krakowsky said in the release: “That’s in no small part thanks to the quiet contributions Danny has been making for many years, in a variety of key leadership roles.”

The Pitch Martin Adweek EC AOY Pic horizontal

Robinson with CEO Kristen Cavallo, center, and the rest of Martin’s leadership team in 2022. (File photo courtesy The Martin Agency)

The announcement also included comments from Robinson and Cavallo, who were not made available for interviews Tuesday. In the release, Cavallo said Robinson’s move from CCO to CEO “is uncommon, but it shouldn’t be.”

“Some of the industry’s most enviable work has been made by agencies led by creative people,” Cavallo said. “Too often, they leave to start their own agency to be taken seriously as business leaders. Danny has held roles across the agency in preparation for just this moment.”

Robinson described his new role as part of a team, Martin’s executive committee, that he’s been a part of for five years.

The Pitch Danny Robinson1

Robinson beside a mural in Martin’s offices with an image of Mike Hughes, the late creative director who recruited him to the agency.

“I’ve seen firsthand what can be accomplished when we all row together,” Robinson said in the release. “Kristen, the entire executive team and all our people and partners have set this agency up for what will be its best chapter yet.

“We will continue to lean into our mission to fight invisibility and build the agency, client brands and an industry of which we can all be proud. It is my honor to lead the agency into its next era,” he said.

Martin closed out last year with new client wins including pizza chain Papa Johns, peanut butter whiskey brand Skrewball, gardening and landscaping brand MiracleGro, and several brands tied to healthcare and pharmaceutical company Sanofi North America. Other clients include insurance company Geico, beer brand Busch Light and clothing brand Hanes.

Martin currently employs 403 people, up from 325 in 2020. The agency does not disclose its annual revenue numbers but reported $28 million in net new and organic revenue in 2022, representing about 30 percent growth – double the growth it reported in 2021.

DannyRobinson2

Robinson in the lobby of The Martin Agency’s Shockoe Slip headquarters. (BizSense file photos)

A changing of the guard is underway at The Martin Agency, where longtime executive and current chief creative officer Danny Robinson was announced Tuesday as the downtown ad firm’s next CEO.

Robinson, who has held a variety of leadership roles at Martin in his nearly 20 years with the agency, was appointed to the post by Interpublic Group, Martin’s New York-based parent company.

He succeeds Kristen Cavallo, Martin’s chief executive for the past six years who has been pulling double-duty since being named in late 2022 as global CEO of IPG’s MullenLowe Group, the international agency where she previously worked.

Kristen Cavallo

Kristen Cavallo

Where Cavallo was the first woman to lead Martin in the role, Robinson’s promotion breaks more ground for the agency with the appointment of its first black CEO. In 2020, Robinson broke down similar barriers when he was named CCO, succeeding Karen Costello, the first female in that post.

Robinson’s replacement as CCO is to be announced next month.

Prior to that role, Robinson served two years as chief client officer, a new-to-Martin role that was created just for him after nearly 14 years as a group creative director and senior vice president. Previously the co-founder and CCO of New York agency Vigilante, Robinson was recruited by Mike Hughes, the late Martin creative director and president.

Robinson’s credits at Vigilante included helping to develop the now-famous Pontiac giveaways on The Oprah Winfrey Show, immortalized by the host’s “You get a car!” refrain.

MartinAgency

The Martin Agency’s Shockoe Slip headquarters.

At Martin, Robinson’s work over the years has touched on accounts such as Walmart, Chevrolet, Tic Tac and Oreo. In his three and a half years as CCO, Robinson has overseen such work as a brand transformation for UPS at New York Fashion Week and, most recently, a viral campaign for Solo Stove that featured Snoop Dogg.

He helped lead Martin to repeat in 2021 as Adweek’s U.S. Agency of the Year, making it one of three ad agencies to win that award back-to-back years. Last year, fellow industry trade publication AdAge named Martin its 2023 Agency of the Year.

In Tuesday’s announcement, IPG CEO Philippe Krakowsky called Robinson “a creative visionary” who “knows our business, our clients, and the industry.”

Describing Martin as having “consistently demonstrated that its talented people can create the kinds of ideas and creative platforms that build and power iconic brands,” Krakowsky said in the release: “That’s in no small part thanks to the quiet contributions Danny has been making for many years, in a variety of key leadership roles.”

The Pitch Martin Adweek EC AOY Pic horizontal

Robinson with CEO Kristen Cavallo, center, and the rest of Martin’s leadership team in 2022. (File photo courtesy The Martin Agency)

The announcement also included comments from Robinson and Cavallo, who were not made available for interviews Tuesday. In the release, Cavallo said Robinson’s move from CCO to CEO “is uncommon, but it shouldn’t be.”

“Some of the industry’s most enviable work has been made by agencies led by creative people,” Cavallo said. “Too often, they leave to start their own agency to be taken seriously as business leaders. Danny has held roles across the agency in preparation for just this moment.”

Robinson described his new role as part of a team, Martin’s executive committee, that he’s been a part of for five years.

The Pitch Danny Robinson1

Robinson beside a mural in Martin’s offices with an image of Mike Hughes, the late creative director who recruited him to the agency.

“I’ve seen firsthand what can be accomplished when we all row together,” Robinson said in the release. “Kristen, the entire executive team and all our people and partners have set this agency up for what will be its best chapter yet.

“We will continue to lean into our mission to fight invisibility and build the agency, client brands and an industry of which we can all be proud. It is my honor to lead the agency into its next era,” he said.

Martin closed out last year with new client wins including pizza chain Papa Johns, peanut butter whiskey brand Skrewball, gardening and landscaping brand MiracleGro, and several brands tied to healthcare and pharmaceutical company Sanofi North America. Other clients include insurance company Geico, beer brand Busch Light and clothing brand Hanes.

Martin currently employs 403 people, up from 325 in 2020. The agency does not disclose its annual revenue numbers but reported $28 million in net new and organic revenue in 2022, representing about 30 percent growth – double the growth it reported in 2021.

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Scott Gravitt
Scott Gravitt
4 months ago

Congratulations to Mr. Robinson! Can’t wait to see more magic coming from our great city!