Chris Ward returns to River Group to drive expansion

chris wardFormer agency chief Chris Ward has returned to The River Group, six years after stepping down to concentrate on his own consultancy, and non-executive and trustee positions, to drive the business’ post pandemic growth phase.

Ward has over 35 years of industry experience, starting life within Omnicom at Rapp, where he worked both in the UK and US followed by stints at BBH Unlimited and CDP before setting up his own agency, Personal, and later selling it to The Engine Group. He then went on launch a service innovation business with Amanda Phillips, An Abundance.

Ward first joined The River Group as chief growth officer in 2016, while also working as an advisor to the board of global technology innovation company Glorious Labs.

In 2018, he quit The River Group to co-found Klive – a “new breed of agency”, designed to marry data, tech, creative, innovation and strategy – with chief creative officer Chris Martin and chief strategy officer David Brown in 2017. However, he stepped down in October 2021.

The same year Ward started a solo consultancy Hibiscus, which he ran alongside NED roles for Karakoram, a humanitarian and environmental innovation agency, and Togethr, a social impact company. He is also a trustee for The Arts Society, working on its innovation programme, which has resulted in the launch of

At The River Group, Ward will assume the role of chief revenue officer and will be responsible for innovation and NPD, working with CEO Nicki Murphy.

The group – which includes Reflect; claimed to be the UK’s first diversity and inclusion-focused influencer agency, as well as Maven PR – has been working on content development and the commercialisation of content for 30 years for brands including Superdrug, Boots, Weight Watchers, Holland & Barrett and Vitality.

Nicki Murphy said: “Innovation has always been key to River’s success. We push ourselves outside of our comfort zone to ensure we stay ahead in a very competitive market. We have in the pipeline a number of new products and services that have completed their prototype phase. We are delighted to have Chris to help bring these to market.”

Ward added: “I genuinely love River. It knows what it’s good at, it pushes itself and places a huge emphasis, on evolving and developing, never resting on its laurels. It has a heritage of keeping blue chip brands for a very, very long time when average agency tenures are just over three years.

“But most importantly for me the board are hugely experienced with high emotional intelligence which reflects in the incredible way they treat staff and suppliers. As soon as you walk through the door, you know it’s a work party you want to be at. Delighted to be back.”

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