Former Keg CMO Ryan Bullock joins Juliet as president, partner

After a decade of literally selling the steak, Ryan Bullock is coming back to sell the sizzle. Most recently president of The Burger’s Priest, and prior to that a longtime marketer with beloved Canadian steakhouse The Keg, Bullock has joined independent agency Juliet as president and partner.

Working alongside founder and chief creative officer Ryan Spelliscy and partner CEO Leanne Goldstein, Bullock will work to strengthen Juliet’s existing client relationships and grow the five-year-old business, which now employs between 30-35 people across its Toronto and Los Angeles offices.

Spelliscy said that having someone who’s spent time as both in both president and CMO roles is “hugely valuable” to Juliet, while Bullock also brings spirit and a commitment to the work.

“What I love about Ryan is that he’s someone who’s unafraid to roll up his sleeves and get out there and meet the audience, versus a CEO or president-type who’s going to sit in their office,” said Spelliscy.

Spelliscy dismissed suggestions that the hire signals that Juliet is at an inflection point, and said it’s more about bringing aboard someone who’s a good fit. “”We weren’t even necessarily looking [for a president], he said. “It wasn’t like we needed this role to go to the next level, it was more like this person is a great fit for us, he sees the world the same way we do, and the experience he brings is an amazing complement.”

But Bullock also shares Spelliscy’s belief that agencies need to take a more active role in their clients’ business. “Nothing was more frustrating to me than reviewing creative that was not grounded in a deeper understanding of my business,” he said. “With that in mind, we are going to go deep to truly understand our client partners, their audiences, and their businesses.”

While acknowledging the vital role of performance marketing and data, he said that agencies can occasionally overlook the importance of connections and storytelling. “We want to make sure data’s there, but also adding that additional layer of connection,” he said. “Telling our brand partners’ story so that it connects with their audience.”

The agency plans to employ what Bullock described as a “touch the dirt” approach, which calls for more hands-on involvement with clients. “Great creative is good, but we have to understand our partners, and the relationship is just as important,” he said.

While Bullock has spent the past decade working in client roles, he also spent more than eight years in account roles with agencies including MacLaren MRM and KBS+.

His relationship with Juliet dates back to 2018, when, as The Keg’s CMO, he invited the agency to pitch on the account. He didn’t know anyone at the agency, but was impressed by what he’d read and heard about them.

The Juliet team reminded him of KBS+, where he spent three years in account roles in the early 2010s. “There were three rounds [in the creative review], and through every round, Juliet was just so impressive,” he said. “They were very partnership focused, scrappy, hugely passionate and wanted to put in the effort,” he said.

Juliet ultimately ended up as runner-up to Rethink, but Bullock enlisted it to work on The Keg’s sister business, Milestones. By the time he joined The Burger’s Priest as president in 2021, Bullock had become good friends with Spelliscy, and found himself agreeing with the creative leader’s “contrarian, anti-advertising agency approach” to the business.

He subsequently hired Juliet for this year’s “Have Faith” campaign, but felt that as his time with The Burger’s Priest went on, he was drifting further away from his passions of relationship-building, strategy and marketing. “Being the president, overseeing everything, I realized that until Burger’s Priest gained some scale, we wouldn’t be seeing some of the fun marketing initiatives I had been doing on The Keg,” he said.

Bullock’s arrival will enable Juliet to expand on its restaurant and QSR experience with Milestones and The Burger’s Priest, but also helps the agency gain perspective not only on where advertising fits within an organization, but also considerations beyond marketing that come with running and leading a business. As an agency partner, said Spelliscy “Ryan has walked a mile in his client’s shoes.”

Chris Powell