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Ad agency Arnold gets a new CEO as parent company merges leadership roles

Arnold Worldwide will get its third leader in two years as French parent company Havas combines oversight of the famed but struggling Boston ad agency with the local operation of its own media planning arm.

Havas said its Boston operations — Arnold and Havas Media Boston — will be overseen by newly promoted chief executive George Sargent and chief creative officer Sean McBride, as part of a “unified leadership structure.” Sargent is currently president of Havas Media Boston, while McBride is executive creative director at Arnold.

Sargent is taking over for Kiran Smith, who abruptly departed in October after barely a year in the job. Arnold’s chief creative officer, Icaro Doria, is also moving to an unspecified new job “within the Havas network.”


Paul Marobella, chief executive of Havas Creative North America, said in a statement that Havas will keep using the Arnold name despite the personnel changes.

“We are committed to the Arnold brand, but we’re equally committed to evolving the Arnold offering,” Marobella said. “We will be sharing more, including the supporting leadership team, in the coming weeks.”

The ad industry, in general, is going through a tumultuous time amid changes in the way clients promote themselves, and stiffer competition from digital-focused upstarts as well as established consultancies. The impacts have been particularly pronounced at Arnold, which employed 250 people in Massachusetts out of 500 in total, according to a recent Boston Business Journal tally, compared with 300 and 590, respectively, a year ago.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.