Vice Media shuffles leadership at its agency as another key exec heads for the exit

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  • Vice Media has made leadership changes at its agency, Virtue Worldwide, as another of its founding execs is leaving.
  • Ryan Mack, who joined Virtue Worldwide at its inception in 2017 and later rose to president, is exiting the company.
  • Virtue promoted EMEA CEO Rob Newlan to global president, overseeing all of Virtue’s 21 offices, putting all its offices under one head. It also promoted SVP Krystle Watler to managing director of North America.
  • Vice’s CRO said Virtue would continue to tap the rest of Vice’s resources for clients.
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Vice Media has made leadership changes at its agency, Virtue Worldwide, as another of its founding execs leaves.

Ryan Mack, who has been at Virtue Worldwide since its inception in 2017, starting as COO and rising to president of Virtue a year and a half ago, is exiting the company. Before Virtue Worldwide, Mack was president for four years of Carrot, Vice’s digital agency that was later merged into Virtue in 2017, per his LinkedIn.

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Mack is just the latest in a string of key execs to leave Virtue in the past few months, including chief creative officer Cameron Farrelly and strategy head RG Logan.

The exits come as the venture-backed, youth-focused media company is looking to Virtue to help it become profitable. They also come at a time of unease at the company, as it tries to repair its reputation and culture after reports of mistreatment of female employees.

Virtue combined its operations under one president

Virtue Worldwide today promoted Rob Newlan to global president from CEO overseeing EMEA and Asia; in his new role, he’ll oversee all of Virtue’s 21 offices, adding Latin America and North America to his responsibilities.

Also promoted was Krystle Watler, who is now managing director of North America. Watler was previously SVP and head of business development in North America. 

Virtue didn’t name an exact replacement for Farrelly’s role but hired Simon Mogren, a vet of agencies like DDB, Ogilvy, and BBDO, as executive creative director for the US. Virtue has also hired a new head of strategy, who hasn’t been named publicly. 

Virtue was founded in 2005 as a creative agency and is one of just a handful of publisher-owned ad agencies. In 2017, Vice Media combined it with other standalone agency-like businesses into the full-service agency called Virtue Worldwide.

Vice Media has been putting more resources behind the agency after enduring a write-down in value by Disney and laying off 10% of its staff.

Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc, who took over in March 2018, has been trying to tie the company’s units together under a new phrase, “One Vice.” Virtue has historically operated independently, with most of its work being direct with clients and not tied to Vice Media properties, and some there have felt that the separation insulated them from cultural problems at other parts of the company.

Vice’s CRO said Virtue would continue to tap the rest of Vice’s resources for clients

Virtue reports up to Dominique Delport, president of international and global chief revenue officer of Vice Media. In an interview, Delport told Business Insider that the elevation of Newlan and Watler made sense as the company stretches its business across 20-plus markets and looks to get bigger commitments from clients in addition to project-based work. 

“If you look at global brands, we have big global brands in the USA, but in volume we have more global brands that are not domestic brands, and we have a great opportunity internationally,” he said.

As for One Vice, Delport said Virtue regularly taps into Vice’s capabilities, less so for buying media on Vice’s own sites, which some advertisers can shy away from because of the edgy content, but more for its production and data expertise.  

“It’s not a white-label agency,” he said. “We’re here to connect the brands with the audience we know the best and leverage the insights and production we built at Vice.”

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