Paul Marobella: The Latest COVID Exit

Paul Marobella: The Latest COVID Exit

Havas Creative North America CEO Paul Marobella is leaving the agency after eight years of service—a long tenure for any marketing exec.

  • Havas will not seek a replacement, opting to have Global Chief Client Officer Stephanie Nerlich oversee Havas North America creative agencies instead.
  • Marobella had served as CEO and Chairman since 2017. 
  • Before that, he spent five years as CEO of Havas Chicago, after serving as president of Havas Worldwide for about three years.

A statement described the nature of Marobella’s departure as mutual, per Adweek. 

Ad Age reported that Havas Chicago had a controversial culture under Marobella and former Chief Creative Officer Jason Peterson, who left in 2018. The publication spoke with a dozen employees in 2018, who found the culture to be “polarizing” after Peterson and Marobella appeared in a video using an expletive to criticize other agencies. 

Churn churn churn

The marketing industry has long known that CMOs have the highest turnover rate of all C-level positions—just last year it slipped to 43 months. For comparison, in 2018 CFOs clocked in at 63 months, and CEOs at 88+ months. 

Here’s what that high turnover has looked like in the COVID era.

In March: As the pandemic took hold, CMOs at Firefox and Diageo announced departures, as did executives at Publicis, WPP, LinkedIn, and Xandr.

In April: Both Ogilvy Worldwide and DDB’s CEOs announced departures. EasyJet scrapped its CMO role entirely.

In May: Top marketers at PayPal, Coca-Cola, and Facebook made exits, as some companies paused marketing efforts.

In June: CMOs at companies from Hilton to Buffalo Wild Wings decided it was time to move on. 

This list is not at all comprehensive—in fact, it barely scratches the surface of the top marketers who said goodbye as pandemic-era disasters struck.

My takeaway: Marobella is just the latest in a long list of marketing leaders who decided the pandemic was as good a time as ever to step down. But in a role that has an average tenure of a very short 43 months, moving on for greener pastures isn’t necessarily monumental—it’s the norm.


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