More on the situation at Element 79/Chicago. To answer the most pressing question first. Yes, the agency is searching for a new creative leader to replace Dennis Ryan, who is exiting to become chief creative officer at Olson/Minneapolis.Sources tell us Element 79 is well along in its search for a new top creative with energy and vitality who can help the company land some new business pronto. Candidates in Chicago and beyond are being considered, we're told.
Element 79 has recently picked up at least one new piece of business, the La Quinta hotel chain. But that probably won't be enough to compensate for the possible loss of its Cricket account.
Element 79 is making its pitch next week to retain the Cricket account, which is certainly one of the shop's biggest and most lucrative accounts. Element 79 will be making that pitch, most likely, without a top creative to lead the effort. Sources inside Element 79 insist the shop is prepared to make a strong pitch, though many observers outside the shop say it might require a miracle of some sort for the agency to hold on to the business.
As for Ryan, no one inside Element 79 apparently believes he left at this crucial moment because he feared the Cricket pitch would not go well. Rather, sources say Ryan was eager to remake himself as an expert in social media, digital and all other aspects of advertising on the cutting edge. And so the story goes, Ryan apparently felt he could best achieve that transformation by making a new start at an agency such as Olson.