Chris Riley resigns from DDB, Mowday quashes rumours about ‘mass redundancies’

Two years after joining the agency from OMD, DDB’s chief operating officer Chris Riley has tendered his resignation.

DDB chief executive Justin Mowday says that Riley resigned about two weeks ago to pursue alternative opportunities. At this stage it’s still unclear where Riley is headed, but Mowday says that he will still be popping into the DDB office for the next few weeks to complete a few things that he had been working on.      

“We’ve parted on very good terms,” says Mowday. “Chris is great guy and he’s done some great work helping to evolve our digital offering. I only wish him the best.”

Riley started his career as a media planner at DDB in 1994, and his appointment to the what was then the newly created role of chief operating officer in 2013 was a case of his career coming full circle. 

Riley’s role was created as part of a resturcuring process that also saw Mowday promoted to the chief executive position.

Before moving across within the Omnicom group, Riley served as managing director at OMD for over three years.    

At the time of announcing the Riley as a new hire at DDB, the agency’s Australia and New Zealand chairman and chief executive Marty O’Halloran told StopPress that introducing Riley was an important strategic move for DDB. 

“If you go back in history for DDB, we’ve always had two or three executives sharing the load,” he said at the time. “And that’s been a very successful formula … They’re [Mowday and Riley] both very ambitious, high-energy, very focused. And I think they’ll rub off on each other quite nicely.”

DDB has not yet announced a replacement for Riley.   

In other staff news, following a StopPress comment stating that there were “mass redundancies” taking place at DDB​, we asked Mowday if this was the case and he says a pair of staff members have been let go at the agency following a review of how the business was performing in terms of projected revenue. 

“A few times a year we look at how we’re tracking and make a few changes,” says Mowday. “…There are definitely no mass redundancies; it’s only a couple of people.”

Mowday says that these changes are in no way related to the departure of Riley, who resigned of his own volition.  

He says the pair, who recently left the agency, are not being replaced. And he says that because agencies “run on very lean margins,” these adjustments form part of standard business practice, as evidenced by a similar situation experienced by Colenso BBDO around the same time last year

Mowday would not be drawn into naming the departed staff members or discussing their seniority on account of protecting their reputations in the industry. 

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