John St. promotes Allison Ballantyne to president, adds Matt Ball as CSO

John St. announced a series of senior appointments on Monday, including the promotion of Allison Ballantyne to president to replace Stephanie Hurst, and the hiring of Matt Ball as chief strategy officer.

A 20-year veteran with experience across client and agency, Ballantyne (top right in photo) joined John St. at the beginning of 2021 as executive vice-president of account management.

Her appointment means that the agency has now completely remade its senior leadership team over the past three years, with chief delivery officer Cas Binnington the only remaining member of the seven-person executive team it introduced in 2019.

Arthur Fleischmann is still associated with the agency, but his role within WPP has expanded to include a group CEO role with both Ogilvy Canada and John St., as well as becoming WPP country manager.

“John St. has always been proactive around its leadership and how it’s managed that,” said Ballantyne of the revamped leadership team. “It’s been staggered and meaningful and purposeful over time, and I don’t think this is anything different. I think this has been very organic, very natural, and just part of a business as it grows up and matures.” John St. currently employs just over 100 people.

Hurst, meanwhile, departed the agency last week after first informing staff and clients of her plans to leave in the spring. She had a hand in building the new leadership team prior to her departure.

“Stephanie’s leadership and contributions to the agency and our clients over the past 10 years has been invaluable,” added Fleischmann. “She has been a partner and mentor to many marketers and John St.’ers alike, especially during these challenging pandemic years, and I’m happy for her and her next chapter.”

Ball (centre top in photo) replaces Megan Towers, who retired last month after spending 15 years with the agency, the last three as CSO.

Ballantyne described herself as a “deeply compassionate and very people-led” leader whose upbringing in an entrepreneurial family—her father owned a McDonalds restaurant—combined by a subsequent client-side role with the QSR, provided an understanding of how businesses grow and transition.

“I’ve seen inside how an organization and brand grows,” she said. “[My father] bought in the 1980s, so it was a fascinating ride to see a brand expand across the country. I saw from the inside out how a brand transforms over different decades, and how an organization operates on a national, international but also very much local basis.”

The rest of the agency’s executive team is comprised of EVP account management Tishan Canagasaby (bottom, centre), and chief creative officer Cher Campbell (top left), who took over the role from Angus Tucker when he departed for the now-defunct Theo in 2020.

The executive appointments are among a series of senior hires and promotions made by John St. this year, including the recent addition of Jamie Marcovitch as ECD. Most recently CD at Rethink, Marcovitch has also held senior creative roles at Anomaly, Ogilvy and BBDO.

Jessica DeSantis also joined the agency as a business lead after spending six years at Juniper Park/TBWA, while the agency also promoted Cam Boyd from CD to ECD, and ACD Natalie Mathers added head of art to her title. Both have been with the agency since 2018.

Erin Brittain has been promoted from strategy director to group strategy director (currently on maternity leave), while Shanaaz Withana has been promoted to EVP, finance, and Sanjeev Thiruaruljothy takes on the position of director, financial operations.

John St. has made 11 promotions this year in order to service new clients including the meal-kit company Goodfood (for which it developed the recent “A Goodfood Fantasy” Mother’s Day campaign), the U.S. pet retailer Pet Supplies Plus and discount gym brand Fit4Less. The agency currently employs just over 100 people.

Chris Powell