WASHINGTON, DC — Former Ogilvy PR global CEO Chris Graves, who currently leads the agency’s behavioral science unit, will be retiring at the end of this year.

"Chris Graves made Ogilvy more interesting,” chairman emeritus Shelly Lazarus said in a memo announcing Graves’ retirement. “The insights and novel thinking he brought to any client were invaluable. Clients that he touched over 10 years ago talk about him to this day. Chris is irreplaceable. To say that he will be missed is a massive understatement. I loved working with him."

Graves — who has served in various senior leadership roles since joining Ogilvy PR in 2005 — has spent the last seven years serving as president of Ogilvy Center for Behavioral Science, which he created to improve marketing effectiveness by developing a better understanding of why people make decisions.

In the time since, the center has grown into a robust operation with regional leaders in Asia and the UK in addition to the US.

Throughout the pandemic, Graves worked with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Save the Children, the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Milken Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation on the behavioral science of vaccine acceptance and hesitancy.

He has also done work focused on combating disinformation, which included speaking on the subject and teaching at the National Security Agency.

While Graves will be departing Ogilvy, he said he will continue his work in the field through his own consultancy, The Resonance Code.

“I am obsessive, and my work in the behavioral science of combatting poor health (and vaccine hesitancy) as well as communicating science (e.g. climate change effects) and combatting disinformation will go on in my own way,” he said.

Graves’ departure will cap 19 years at Ogilvy, which he joined as APAC CEO of the firm’s PR division. During his tenure, the APAC PR group doubled in revenues and profits, leading all PR agencies in Asia-Pacific, said Ogilvy Consulting global CEO Carla Hendra.

Five years later, he was promoted to global CEO of Ogilvy PR, which grew 50% under his watch, Lazarus said.

“Chris is a very active researcher, writer and public speaker, and will now focus his time on crystallizing all he has learned into new works," added Hendra. "A new book just out called ‘Generosity Wins’ chose to feature Chris as one of its examples. He counters that it is not so much his generosity as his weakness — an inability to say ‘no’ when asked for help."