Digital Kitchen has named renowned creative leader Dennis Ryan as CEO to helm the creative and digital agency with offices in Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. Digital Kitchen is a member of kyu, the strategic operating unit of Hakuhodo DY Holdings Inc. of Japan (“HDY”), led by Michael Birkin, CEO.
Mr. Ryan joins Digital Kitchen’s management team including Founder/Chairman Paul Matthaeus and co-Founder Don McNeill. Bill Fritsch, Digital Kitchen’s former CEO, will remain on Digital Kitchen’s board and continue to serve in an advisory role.
Mr. Ryan’s advertising career began as a copywriter at DDB (Needham) Chicago and quickly led to creative leadership roles on storied national brands. As Executive Creative Director at JWT Chicago, he worked on international campaigns and chaired their worldwide creative council. He served for nearly a decade as Chief Creative Officer of Omnicom’s Element 79, building the agency into a well-respected, award-winning firm and doubling their billings in six years. In 2011, Mr. Ryan moved to Olson Minneapolis to serve as their first-ever Chief Creative Officer, leading and integrating brand, digital, mobile and social creative work across four offices. After Olson’s sale to ICF International in 2014, Mr. Ryan created his own brand consultancy, Fetrow Ryan & Partners, with partner Mike Fetrow.
“Dennis is an exceptional choice to lead Digital Kitchen through a new period of growth and creative excellence,” said Mr. Birkin. “I’m not only impressed by his pedigree, but also by his foresight and discernment in selecting the right creative organization that embraces where he believes the industry has shifted. Dennis shares the kyu collective’s drive to build a world-class creative network unlike any that have existed before.”
Digital Kitchen joined kyu in June 2015. kyu is an international portfolio of marketing services companies created in 2014 with appointment of Mr. Birkin as CEO. The group includes C2, Red Peak Group (Red Peak Branding and Infrared), Sid Lee, SY/Partners and a minority stake in IDEO.
“The Digital Kitchen opportunity was irresistible,” said Mr. Ryan. “I’ve admired them since they first opened in Chicago. Their consistently extraordinary creativity and deep roots in the entertainment industry perfectly align with the needs of today’s leading advertisers looking to expand their brands in dynamic, new ways. In the crowded agency landscape, DK stands for something truly singular. I’m both honored and excited to help shape this stellar legacy into an even more compelling offering to clients.”
“We felt it was absolutely critical to find a creative leader who understands the power behind Digital Kitchen’s offering,” said Mr. McNeill. “Dennis is more than a business leader; he’s a true creative mind and champion of culture. In Dennis, we have a builder: a talent who has executed massive Super Bowl campaigns, yet appreciates how craft and deeply engaging content are equally as critical as scale.”