Rob Gendron named new ECD at Saatchi

After 16 years at Saatchi & Saatchi, the last 13 as executive creative director, Brian Sheppard is stepping away, though he isn’t retiring.

The agency announced that Rob Gendron (main picture) will officially take over as executive creative director on April 1. Sheppard will continue to work for the agency as a writer on some projects, but will do so from St. John’s.

“[M]y family and I will be returning to Newfoundland where I will play synths in an ‘80s cover band, collect stuff I don’t need, write and make art, learn fly fishing, and drink some bourbon a few times a week, probably while telling some stories,” he posted on LinkedIn today.

Sheppard (right) joined Saatchi & Saatchi from Target in 2007, and was appointed co-executive creative director along with Helen Pak in 2010. Early in his career, Sheppard honed his craft as a writer at the legendary Canadian agency Harrod & Mirlin, before spending a few years at Ogilvy & Mather.

In a press release, Sheppard said he told Saatchi president Stuart Payne in the fall that he wanted to give up the ECD role this spring.

“Brian’s legacy is outstanding for key clients,” said Payne in an email to The Message. “He’s been an excellent leader of our department and has given a lot back to the industry by nurturing and grooming young talents… He’s a wonderful partner and friend and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with him.”

Gendron has been with Saatchi for 11 years, and before that spent time at Leo Burnett, Cundari and Y&R. “Rob was actually handpicked by Brian 11 years ago—they worked closely together all this time,” said Payne. “Rob has done outstanding work on our key clients. He is both respected internally and externally and has a positive point of view on everything.”

David Brown