CP&B is naming Erik Sollenberg, CEO of Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, as global chief executive. He will share the role with currrent Global CEO Lori Senecal until she retires at the end of the year.
The appointment comes about a year after MDC Partners acquired Forsman & Bodenfors, an agency known for strong creative shops, and forged a global partnership between it and CP&B.
Sollenberg will relocate from Sweden to CP&B’s Boulder headquarters in early September to take on the new role. Forsman & Bodenfors Art Director Silla Levin succeed him as CEO of the Swedish shop.
Senecal previously told Ad Age that she and CP&B Chairman Chuck Porter privately sketched out a succession plan for her departure when she joined as the agency’s first global CEO in March 2015. Sollenberg says he and Porter have been talking about his potential executive appointment for a long time – even before MDC decided to buy Forsman & Bodenfors.
“He’s gotten to know our agency really well,” says Porter. “We’re full of great talent, but we’re maybe not doing as good of a job at leveraging that talent and I think Erik is coming in and feeling a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about what we can be.”
Porter adds that Sollenberg has had “extraordinary success” in managing a creative-focused business. During his 14-year tenure as CEO of Forsman & Bodenfors, the shop won more than 100 Lions and six Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.
Sollenberg will help CP&B focus more on its work going forward, says Porter. “I’ve never believed advertising is a service business,” he says. “It’s a product business and the product is ideas.”
Sollenberg says his first charge upon joining CP&B is to better get to know the agency. “It’d be very naive for me to have a strong opinion on what I’m going to do before I get to know the agency and the people behind the agency,” he says.
Porter, on the other hand, has a task already in mind for Sollenberg. “The first thing I want him to focus on is our overall creative structure, starting in Boulder. We have allowed ourselves to become little more hierarchical than I’d like to be. I’m not positive that the people doing the work are close enough to the clients, so I want him to think about getting the actual makers of the work closer to the people we’re doing the work for,” says Porter.
Sollenberg says moving to the U.S. will be a challenge, but “life is about challenge” and “it’d be an even bigger challenge with a bigger chance of failure if I didn’t acknowledge it.”
Sollenberg also has the global credentials for the job, notes Porter. “He and I both think the most important thing you can do as a global agency is to be the best local agency you can be in every market you’re in,” he says.
Earlier this week, Domino’s decided to re-up with its longtime creative agency CP&B through 2020, despite a number of key people on the account leaving last year. As national agency of record for the country’s second-largest pizza chain, CP&B handles creative, brand strategy, media planning and digital initiatives.
Despite losing its global relationship with Infiniti to MDC Partners sibling 72andSunny this summer, CP&B, which continues to work with the auto brand in the U.S. and select international markets, has experienced somewhat of a creative renaissance of late.
For Kraft, the shop waited until a healthier Kraft Mac & Cheese without artificial ingredients sold 50 million boxes before doing an ad campaign last year to promote the reformulation, which it then billed as the world’s biggest blind taste test. This spring it introduced a campaign for Jose Cuervo, its first since winning the business last year, with the tagline “Tomorrow Is Overrated.”
Revenue at CP&B increased 21% in 2016, according to Ad Age Datacenter.