New ECD and head of planning join Doug&Partners

Amid a wave of changes to its senior leadership team, the agency is reimagining its approach to the work it does.
Doug&Partners

Toronto-based agency Doug & Partners is in the middle of reinventing itself, led by a pair of key new hires to its senior leadership team.

Marta Hooper has joined the agency as its ECD, replacing Matt Syberg-Olsen, who recently left the agency after four years leading the creative offering. Hooper comes to Doug & Partners with more than a decade of experience in senior creative roles, including most recently as head of creative at Trevor//Peter.

Hooper’s background is in copywriting, but she has “a passion and real skill for design,” says Christine Scott, managing director at the agency. It is that, paired with a broad array of expertise across a wide array channels, that made her a standout candidate for the role.

Also joining the agency as head of planning is Meg Kerr. Kerr most recently served as senior director of strategy at Mosaic North America.

Kerr “has an omnichannel approach to planning,” says Scott. “She is a true creative planner. So she can bring a lot of support and foundational understanding to the creative team as they start to ideate.”

The two hires signal a shift in the way Doug & Partners is approaching work in the future. The push is led by Scott, who joined the agency in March, who has been working with agency founder Doug Robinson to advance a “future-forward mindset” built around what Scott calls “intellectual diversity.”

“For us, it’s about understanding that for a true creative output to be groundbreaking, relevant and connect with all sorts of consumers, it needs to be represented by those same people,” explains Scott. “It’s making sure that the team comes to the table with a varied voice and isn’t just looking for a homogenous, check-the-box approach to coming up with solutions.”

On the creative front, Hooper is looking to lead the charge.

“I really believe that if you want to achieve true creative alchemy, you need a team and philosophy that’s open to new inputs and naturally brings different viewpoints and experiences to the table,” she says. “It’s naturally experimental and iterative, and you need that diversity of thought for it to happen.”

For Hooper, “new ideas are just different and unexpected combinations of old ideas. But it’s hard to find them if the people responsible for making those connections are coming up from the same schools, agencies and roles and doing things the same way.”

As a logical extension of the push toward “intellectual diversity,” Hooper says she wants to “reimagine completely” the process by which work is done at the agency to make it faster and more iterative – essentially, by bringing varied voices and skill sets to the table at once through greater integration.

“A more integrated approach is definitely something we’re going to be looking at,” says Hooper. “If you have a fully integrated team, you have someone who can always deliver. And when you have an iterative, nimble process, you have an approach that’s very flexible.”

Both Scott and Hooper emphasize that this isn’t just change for change’s sake.

“Although everyone has different reasons for wanting to see change in the industry and to do things differently, we’re all united in that same mindset that we want to build a new type of agency. There’s a lot of great momentum and it’s exciting to be feeding off of that and being part of it,” says Hooper. “You don’t get a chance to do this at this kind of level very often.”