Lg2 names new agency presidents

As part of the shop's unique succession plan, three new leaders take the lead in each of its offices.

WEBLeft_to_right_SylvainLabarre_JeremyGayton_MireilleCote_MathieuRoy

From left to right: Lg2 co-founder and chairman of the board Sylvain Labarre, with new presidents Jeremy Gayton (Toronto), Mireille Côté (Quebec City) and Mathieu Roy (Montreal).

Lg2 has named new presidents to all three of its Canadian offices, part of a now-completed succession plan that sees the shop’s co-founders hand over the reins to “the next generation of agency leaders.”

Jeremy Gayton is now president of Lg2 Toronto, Mathieu Roy of the Montreal office and Mireille Côté of the Quebec City office. All three were previously VP and GM of their respective offices. Sylvain Labarre, Lg2′s co-founder and previous president across all three offices, remains chairman of the board of directors. The other agency co-founders, Paul Gauthier and Gilles Chouinard, have moved into mentorship roles within Lg2 (Gauthier was most recently chief brand officer and Chouinard most recently executive creative director) and will continue to do so for at least the next three years.

Gayton joined Lg2 in 2014 from Taxi, where he was chief development officer. Roy joined Lg2 in 2007 as VP of account services and was promoted to general manager in 2011. Côté has been with the agency since 2009.

The move is part of Lg2′s succession plan, which has been in place for the past 10 years. It was then that the agency created a second company, dubbed “Lg2345,” which new partners were given the opportunity to buy into. This company – funded by an equivalent loan from one of Lg2′s key clients, Desjardins – used a portion of profits to buy back the shares of the founders and repay the loan gradually over the past decade.

The plan, though it kept some money off the table and took a long time to executive, makes Lg2′s long-term independence more tangible and energizes employees. Gayton adds that the succession plan has been set up to execute itself in perpetuity, and will position the company to empower the next generation of leadership in another 10 or 15 years.

“It’s not just a statement to say we’re independent now, it’s a mechanism that allows us to stay independent, keep talent engaged and carry that on for as long as we operate,” he says. “I was so impressed when I joined a year and a half ago by the thoroughness and strategic thought that went into this plan. It’s not a transaction, per se. It is a full plan, and one that doesn’t reflect a moment in time. It’s one that’s intended to reflect the enduring development of the company.”

Remaining independent is something that has become rarer in Canada’s agency landscape. In Lg2′s home province of Quebec, Terrain Marketing was merged with Ogilivy earlier this year, and 2015 saw Sid Lee acquired by Tokyo-based Hakuhodo DY Holdings and made part of the new Kyu agency collective, while digital shop w.illi.am was acquired by Valtech. These moves, among others, led the leadership at several shops to come together to form Groupe Police, providing guidance to entrepreneurs and independent agencies in the province. Outside of Quebec, Dentsu Aegis acquired Grip last month.

For Lg2, independence has, and will continue to, allow it to focus on investing in talent to produce top-quality creative work and the culture that motivates them and keeps them with the agency, which Roy says has been vital to its success. Over the ten years the succession plan has been in place, Lg2 has doubled in size, both in terms of revenue and amount of staff.

“Independence simplifies our business in a way that lets us put the best interests of our clients and employees first,” Gayton says. “It allows us to invest in talent and skills that we believe will allow us to deliver the best solutions to clients. We’re free from answersing to a holding company or network, because we’re answering to ourselves.”

“Clients see value as well, because any time the structure is simple, they find more seniority and less hierarchy, which brings our relationship with them to a whole new level,” Roy adds.

In Toronto, VP/CDs Nellie Kim and Chris Hirsch are on the management team with Gayton. In Quebec City, Côté is joined by VP and CD Luc Du Sault. And in Montreal, the team includes VP and CD Marc Fortin, VP of account services Julie Dube and VP of strategy Anne-Marie Leclair. Lg2Boutique’s management team includes VP and CD of design Claude Auchu in Quebec City and Jacques de Varennes in Montreal, with VP of production Michel Belisle on the team for Lg2Fabrique in Montreal.

Lg2 currently has more than 230 employees across its three offices. In addition to numerous national and international awards for its client work, 2015 saw the agency add new work from Producteurs de lait du Québec, renew its contract with Hydro Quebec and expand its duties with existing clients, such as with Desjardins on its digital-only Zag Bank brand.