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AMV BBDO’s long-serving chief executive and chairman Dame Cilla Snowball is leaving the company after 26 years.

Snowball will be succeeded at the start of 2019 by Sarah Douglas and Justin Pahl, who have been promoted from within to take up the chief executive and group chairman roles respectively.

Andrew Robertson, president and chief executive of AMV BBDO owner BBDO Worldwide, said: “About a year ago, Cilla told me she was giving me 12 months’ notice of her intention to leave her position and pursue a portfolio-based career, working on the boards and government initiatives that she is frequently approached for. 

“Since then, I have spent most of my time pretending the conversation never happened; and Cilla has spent hers tirelessly developing the agency’s business, reputation and leadership team.  s always though, Cilla meant what she said.  And now, after 26 years, that time has come.” 

Snowball joined AMV BBDO in 1992 to serve as its first new business director. Since then she has moved up the ranks from managing director, chairman, group chairman, and chief executive. Her input is cited in the agency reportedly holding the UK’s number one billings position for 21 consecutive years.

On the departure, Snowball said: “It’s very hard to leave a business I love, and work that I enjoy, if you’ve worked as long as I have in a great job like mine, I think it’s best to go when people ask why, not when you are leaving.  I’m beyond grateful for the opportunities and support I have been given at AMV BBDO, surrounded by the best work, people and clients.  I’ve always loved doing portfolio work and I am excited about the next chapter.”

 Douglas has been at the company for 18 years and is being promoted from chief client officer. Pahl has served for a decade and moves up from managing director.

On the promotions, Robertson said: “Sarah has been associated with some of the agency’s most powerful work and has led many of its most important pitches as chief client officer. She is sharp, challenging, courageous, and knows how to get the best out of the agency [and] Justin has led some of our most important client assignments and, most recently, led the European effort on Ford.”

Earlier this week, the agency released its first work for April client win Asda, a high-energy Christmas campaign.