Ex-R/GA boss Jon Holloway returns to agency

The former managing director of R/GA, Jon Holloway, is rejoining the business as executive strategy director, Mumbrella can reveal.

Holloway said that despite the headlines around his exit from the agency in 2016, he actually left the business on really good terms. This time around though, he said he will be focusing on what he’s best at.

“I’ve changed a lot,” Holloway told Mumbrella of his time away from adland. “I definitely won’t be updating my LinkedIn profile at any point with anything that might be taken [by the media],” he said, referencing his 2016 post which said R/GA had been “floundering” and “all over the place”.

Jon Holloway


Holloway said he will still be opinionated, but is now more willing now to relinquish control.

“I certainly have an opinion on most things. That has been quite direct in the past. [But] I think there is an amazing opportunity now for the whole industry to come together and lift up what brands and businesses are doing in Australia to go beyond ad-funded media approaches, because that alone is probably not the best for companies and brands today,” he said.

Australia’s creative industry is also at a tipping point, he said, and is at further risk due to the talent drain and marketers losing relevance within big organisations.

“We’ve had some lean years from a creative point of view. And there’s been quite a lot of infighting between consultancies and agencies all going after the same type of work. So I’m definitely not the anti-advertising contrarian I probably was. I still have deep feelings and opinions about how the advertising world and now the advertising consultancy world works, but I want to try and change it by doing it, not necessarily by shouting it at people. I will still shout it at people, but I think the reason I’m back at R/GA is because there aren’t many businesses that are better positioned to take that work on and to really try to push it forwards to help brands work in this world that is really undefinable by all of us,” he said.

“It’s quite obvious we’re becoming less relevant. We are seeing less and less marketers in big positions at big companies. We’re seeing less and less budgets coming to creative businesses. We are seeing everyone trying to steal the cheese from each other. But if we can play a role in redefining who we are and putting creativity back at the heart of businesses, then I would be happy with that.”

As for what he wants the headline to be when he exits the agency again – rather than ‘Exiting R/GA boss Holloway claims agency was ‘floundering’ and ‘all over the place’‘ – he said he’s back for the long-haul and this time it’s about the business.

“I will be staying quiet and hopefully not leaving for a much longer period of time. Two years is a good stint in advertising. I would like it to be a lot more,” he said.

R/GA is reinventing itself, Holloway said 

“I think that I would like the business and everybody within it to be part of the evolution of what creativity is in Australia. I think we have a responsibility as an industry to redefine that. To be really serious about that.”

Holloway’s role will involve working across commercial design, behaviour change, strategic design, customer experience and data sciences.

“R/GA in Australia has gone through a reinvention. It’s something that R/GA does a lot as the market changes. And what we have been doing over the last 12 months or so is to bring together this new creative proposition of agency and consultancy. So you get all the commercial rigour and commercial desire for consultancy… and what we call ‘business transformation’ has been launched in Australia and is growing across the region. And then you have all the fast-make-style culture of agencies brought together.

“So we are now operating like an agency. consultancy business that is allowing us to take that kind of deep rigour and design from consultancy and add that kind of creative layer of a creative business and do things that are truly quite different and operate in different ways,” he said.

Michael Titshall, VP and managing director of R/GA Australia, said Holloway was the right person to help transform R/GA.

“With his diverse experience across brand consultancy and innovation, being a founder of several start-ups and leading globally renowned creative work, Jon has the rare capability to combine brand strategy, commercial design and behaviour change. These capabilities and his passion for challenging the status quo, make Jon the perfect strategic leader for R/GA Australia as we continue our journey of building a new breed of creative business,” he said.


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