Kitcatt Nohr managing director Vonnie Alexander and chief strategy officer Richard Madden are both leaving after a combined 21 years at the business, in a move which is likely to see one of the most recognised brands in the UK agency world disappear.
Launched in 2002, the founders were courted for years, eventually selling to Publicis in 2011. Kitcatt Nohr was folded into LBi in 2012 but retained its name.
Alexander and Madden both resigned some months ago and have been working out their notice period. On announcing their departures to staff, LBi UK boss Michael Islip insisted the agency will still be a separate entity although stopped short of saying the brand would remain.
While Kitcatt Nohr is well known in the UK, LBi’s strategy is to create a global group and insiders suggest it would make more sense for the agency to become LBi CRM, alongside LBi Media and LBi e-commerce. That would also let the group scale the CRM offering internationally, although this is unlikely to happen for at least 12 months.
Alexander, the last remaining co-founder of the agency – following the departures of Marc Nohr and Jeremy Shaw in late 2013 and Paul Kitcatt in April – is to take time out of the industry before deciding on her next move.
Highly respected in the DM industry, Alexander started her career at WWAV Rapp Collins (now Rapp) in 1990 and then had a spell at Carlson (now Aimia) before co-founding Kitcatt Nohr.
Madden – who has been at the agency eight years – is to join Simon Hall and Warren Moore as strategy partner of Seven Seconds, their joint venture with BBH which counts British Airways, Barclays and Tesco among its clients.
Regarded as one of the industry’s “super-brains”, Madden started his agency career at Christian Brann in Cirencester in 1988. He then spent 13 years at GGT and, following its merger with Tequila, another two years at the new entity.
In 2005, his former boss Mike Cornwell held advanced talks with Mother about seting up a DM division. But the deal collapsed after it was leaked to the trade press, leaving Madden and his fellow would-be co-founder Nick Moore – who were both still working at Tequila at the time – with little option but to resign.
Madden then had a short spell at Claydon Heeley, before joining Kitcatt Nohr in 2007.
On LinkedIn, Nationwide Building Society head of CRM Spencer Clarke said: “Richard is by far the smartest person I’ve come across in any agency I’ve worked with, and has a charisma which just makes him a pleasure to work with.
“He brings even the most cynical of stakeholders along with him, with his amusing and self-depreciating style – yet still retains a gravitas which demands respect.”
The duo’s replacements both work within the LBi group; Alexander’s role will pass to LBi business director Hattie Whiting, while Madden will be succeeded by LBi creative planning director Ed Beard.
Ben Golik remains executive creative director, while data strategy director Sue MacLure will be taking on a broader remit within the LBi group.
The agency’s clients include Axa, Nissan, Bupa and Sky.
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