Colleen DeCourcy will leave Wieden+Kennedy and retire from the advertising industry at the end of the year, the agency said on Monday (December 13).
DeCourcy, who joined W+K in 2013, served as president and chief creative officer at the agency for three years, with prior roles as co-president and global executive creative director. During her tenure, W+K brought on some of its biggest accounts, including Airbnb, Visa and Facebook.
She took the leadership role in W+K when Dan Wieden stepped away from running the company he founded in 1982.
“Part of the responsibility we have as leaders is to build companies that can grow beyond us,” DeCourcy said in a statement. “The directive I was given a decade ago was: evolve this place beyond us. And then evolve it beyond you. The greatest privilege of my career has been to helm the agency, reimagine it, redefine success and leave it more prepared for the future than I found it.”
“I’m stepping out into a whole new world that’s being rocked by my favorite things: chaos and change,” she continued. “I’m excited to open that door.”
DeCourcy’s role will not be replaced. Neal Arthur, global chief operating officer, and Karl Lieberman, global chief creative officer at W+K will lead the independent agency together.
Throughout the course of her career, DeCourcy wore many hats.
Prior to joining W+K, DeCourcy started her advertising career in 1986 as receptionist at Canadian agency Saffer Cravit & Freedman. She worked for a brief stint at CBC TV and Variety, followed by a role working with a concert promoter for acts such as the opera Aida, Madonna and The Rolling Stones.
She returned to advertising in 1994, joining Spafax, which later became part of WPP, Organic, which was acquired by Omnicom in 2003, and JTW New York. She wasTBWA\Worldwide’s first chief digital officer.
DeCourcy left TBWA in 2011 to start her own social media content and design shop, Socialisitc, before joining W+K.
DeCourcy is credited for being a vocal advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in the ad industry and notably helped launch the Times Up Advertising organisation.
Arthur described Colleen in a statement as an “absolute legend” and expressed his gratitude for all she’s done for him personally.
“It’s exciting to know that she will be out in the world, imposing her will [and] making [an] impact] on spaces beyond advertising,” he said.
Karl Lieberman echoed the sentiment, saying “She's opened a lot of doors for a lot of people in this company. The opportunity she’s given me and others since she started here is incredible. I’ll forever be grateful for that.”
DeCourcy’s exit comes after David Kennedy, legendary founder of the independent agency that bore his name, passed away in October at age 82.