LONDON — M&C Saatchi Talk MD Chris Hides has joined The Academy as managing director, after 16 years with the agency.

The move comes after the merger of the sister agencies in January this year to form M&C Saatchi Talk, and the departure of M&C Saatchi’s global CEO Molly Aldridge.

In his new role, Hides will report to The Academy’s co-founders Mitch Kaye and Dan Glover. Kaye told PRovoke: “I first met Chris back in 2013 when I tried to hire him at Mischief. He turned me down. Dan and I have followed his career closely ever since, and always felt he would be someone we’d love to team up with. We both feel he is the right person at just the right time.

“In what has been a challenging 2020 for everyone, our approach has been to keep calm, stay brave, work harder, protect our team, put out more work for our clients, and be by their side throughout. We have a long way to go and a lot more to do, but bringing together the best brains is how we’ll move through a difficult moment, and Chris brings leadership, experience and an excellent track record.

“Chris will be involved in every aspect of the business from day one. He is brilliant with clients, leads his teams with kindness and integrity, and shares mine and Dan’s ambition to be the best agency we can be.”

In a LinkedIn post, Hides said: “It's been a fantastic 16 years at M&C Saatchi. When we launched M&C Saatchi PR back in 2010 I don’t think we knew what an incredible ride it was going to be. A ride that would not have been possible without the backing and support of the partners, the other companies across the Group, a collection of outstanding clients and of course the 200 plus people that worked with me at the agency over that decade. Without all of those people I would not have gone on to enjoy some truly memorable moments and experiences and I thank them for that.

“I am of course incredibly excited to be joining The Academy. They have earned a great reputation through brilliant work delivered by a very talented team. Thanks go to Mitch and Dan for creating this opportunity for me.”

The Academy’s previous managing director, Ella Dorley-Brown, left the agency last November and this month launched a new agency, Where Eagles Dare, with former W managing director Richard Tompkins and W’s former head of strategy Adam Leigh.

In June, The Academy hired Sean Allen-Moy as a director from W Communications, where he was head of W Enterprise.

At M&C Saatchi Talk, Hides’ role is not being directly replaced. The agency has hired a new head of consumer and board director, however: Lucy Swan, previously head of brand at Porter Novelli since 2018 and the managing partner of Clarion Communications for the previous decade.

Chief executive Jane Boardman told PRovoke: “We would have loved Chris to stay. We worked together years ago and part of the joy of the merger was working together again. We’re glad he supported us through this year and it’s a good move for him. He’s a great bloke and it’s incredibly amicable. Lucy is effectively his replacement on the client-handling side and they are having a proper handover until he leaves at Christmas. We wish him enormous success.”

On Swan’s hire, Boardman said: “Lucy has the same gentle charm with no-bullshit as Chris. For a consumer lead, there needs to be a perfect blend of brilliant client handling and creativity, you have to be a really strong people manager, and the cultural fit is crucial. We were looking for someone collaborative, who is happy to sit on the board and take ownership, and really cares about people, and she brings all of that.”

In addition, Boardman said other board director roles had been “upweighted” to run their own profit centres, and the agency is about to hire a new head of creative strategy after former global head of strategy Chris Brown moved to Amazon to lead social media, content and data in EMEA.