Viola will remain within the network and join the creatively acclaimed Melbourne office, where he will operate as chief growth officer for Australia. His successor in Hong Kong has yet to be announced. He will remain in Hong Kong until the end of the year and will take up his position in Australia in February.
Viola is relocating for personal reasons. He said that with his sons entering their teenage years, it was important to avoid the upheaval of moving while studying at high school — hence now was a "window" that would not come again for some time. He said in a statement that the move was “bitter sweet”, but that the time had come to “move onto the next chapter”.
Noting that every agency had its highs and lows, he said that in view of McCann Melbourne's spike in creative awards this year (thanks to Metro Trains' 'Dumb ways to die'), he "couldn't have picked a better time to go home". He said the agency had become a "beacon" for the network not just in Asia-Pacific but globally.
McCann has worked with Cathay Pacific for twenty years. Viola began his career with the agency as group account director in Sydney when the agency pitched for the Cathay Pacific business in 1993. He admitted that the length of his tenure was unusual in an industry with particularly high turnover, but described his relationship with Cathay and the agency as "unique".
"I've got a real passion for the airline industry and [Cathay has] been very much a family for me," he said. "It doesn't happen often that you get the right cultural fit."
The news follows the move of Thierry Halbroth, former ECD for Cathay Pacific, to Thailand to oversee creative work for Chevrolet. Martin Lever replaced Halbroth in July.