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Hires, Wins & Business

mcgarrybowen Names Greg Johnson as its First U.S. Chief Innovation Officer

Greg will lead development of new business models to transform brands

mcgarrybowen Names Greg Johnson as its First U.S. Chief Innovation Officer

Patrick Lafferty, U.S. President of mcgarrybowen announced today that it has named Greg Johnson as the agency’s first Chief Innovation Officer. Johnson will lead the development of new capabilities, competencies, and business models for the agency’s clients across mcgarrybowen’s three U.S. offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

mcgarrybowen acquired San-Francisco based digital agency Swirl last December, where Johnson was Chief Marketing Officer. At Swirl, Johnson was instrumental in extending the agency’s digital marketing potential and developing its digital product capabilities. During his tenure at Swirl, the agency doubled in size and was twice listed as one of the fastest growing independent companies in The Bay Area.

As a proof point of the value of new business models, Johnson led team to win digital AOR duties for Dole and Conduent. The agency will develop new ways to promote Dole’s healthy eating platform. Conduent, the business processing outsourcing spinoff from Xerox, will engage best of the agency’s brand building and creative platforms along with its digital prowess and media capabilities. 

Lafferty said, “Greg has a future-focused lens on how to transform the way we think about delivering value for our clients. Greg is a digital native, yet possesses a seamless ability to integrate Swirl’s strong data-driven unique digital execution with mcgarrybowen’s hallmark Big Organizing Ideas platform.” He added, “Greg has turned his skills into leading teams to customizing innovation to attract clients like Dole and Conduent.”

Johnson’s career trajectory has been impressive by every measure. He started his career at Digitas where he rose to become President of Agency Services—setting a path for the agency’s success in its earliest days. After that, he became EVP, Global Director of Digital Innovation for McCann Erickson, leading clients and capabilities worldwide and becoming the founding director of the IPG Emerging Media Lab. Prior to Swirl, Johnson was Executive Creative Director at William Morris Endeavor where he was the lead on the re-launch of the Polaroid brand.

An Ad Age Media Maven winner in 2006, Johnson has received numerous accolades and has been a sought-after speaker and thought leader in the industry, speaking at Cannes, CES, AdTech, to name a few.

John Berg, CE0, swirl/mcgarrybowen, said, “Greg has been critical to Swirl’s success over the past four years. He has already proven that his uncanny ability to add “story doing” to mcgarrybowen’s story telling capabilities is paying dividends. With the momentum at mcgarrybown and now with Greg driving innovation, there is no doubt the agency is unstoppable.”

Johnson said, “Innovation is in my blood and nothing is more exciting than finding new and better ways to bring value to our clients.” He explained, “Brands have far too long been shackled with the same marketing process and in treating clients as if they all had the same problem. We plan to take a deep dive in understanding the biggest business challenges facing marketers today and develop ways to transform brands that provide a higher return on their marketing investment.” 

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