Creativity is our lifeblood. Big creative ideas open doors to solve your business challenges in unexpected ways. Our creativity is fostered by a collaborative culture built around 3 principles: Ability. Agility. Humility. We’re at our best when we combine deep category expertise with an attitude that embraces change and an open-mindedness to the best ideas, no matter where they come from.
The business landscape is more dynamic and is changing at a faster pace than ever before. We all feel it, and understand the critical urgency to keep up. We won’t solve your business challenges if we bring ideas that worked years ago. By infusing our team with capabilities that aren’t found in typical agencies, we’re able to think of solutions that go beyond the typical agency scope and approach.
Chief Executive Officer
Patrick Venetucci is an entrepreneurial and transformational executive who has been leading courageous leaps in the marketing services industry for nearly 30 years. As a c-level business leader at companies such as Leo Burnett Worldwide and Dentsu Aegis Network, Patrick sparked growth and innovation by modernizing capabilities, creating novel operating models and repositioning big iconic brands for Fortune 500 brands such as Samsung. Having managed marketing, operations and HR at $1B in scale, as well as having worked on the ground in 30+ countries, Patrick has an uncommon multifunctional and global perspective. Several years ago, Patrick set off on an entrepreneurial path with the vision of bending the industry in a new direction. Partnering with private equity companies, he led a number of buyout attempts valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Additionally, Patrick has served on the boards of innovative public and private technology companies and has advised many private equity firms. Patrick holds an MBA in Finance, Marketing & Entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago and a BA in Communications Studies from the University of Iowa.
Chief Executive Officer
Ron is CEO of MERGE Chicago and the MERGE Network, which also has offices in Boston and Atlanta. He has transformed the network to meet the needs of today’s rapidly changing marketplace by building an agency with an uncommon combination of capabilities in technology, creativity and strategy. Ron’s day-to-day problem solving philosophy is “Face it. Figure it out. Fix It.” He has brought together top talent across all disciplines to create a unified agency team that believes in the importance of collaboration to get results that build a client’s business. Ron has been recognized with many agency awards including Chicago Agency Person of the Year for his industry leadership.
Chris focuses on growing the agency, using our uncommon capabilities to help clients transform brands and strengthen customer relationships. He sets the strategy and direction for working as a unified network across our offices. Chris is the ultimate ultra-business athlete. He brings to work each day the grit and tenacity he’s honed as a competitive runner and cyclist. He loves living outside the comfort zone, and uses his agility and passion to drive companies forward. He has helped launch start-ups as well as revitalize brands – from mid-sized companies to Fortune 500s.
Chief Strategy Officer
Lauren oversees our digital and marketing strategy. She brings passion and data-driven insights to every assignment, feeding off working with teams who have a hunger for building solutions at the nexus of creativity, data and technology. She hates being called a unicorn, but Lauren does have an uncommon depth of experience working in Strategy, Planning, CRM, Media, Modeling and Performance Analytics. Lauren’s ad agency career is only part of her story. She’s also an entrepreneur and a blogger who writes about predictive analytics and research innovation.
Chief Creative Officer
Kevin Houlihan is known for his relentless creativity and business common sense. He leads a growing team of talent working across categories on all types of assignments. Kevin brings humility, practicality and know-how to every project. Getting to the finish line is not only more rewarding but always more fun when Kevin’s around. His advertising philosophy is that collaboration leads to bigger ideas: The more open the dialogue between clients and agency, the greater the freedom to challenge thinking and build powerful selling ideas.
Chief Talent Officer
Kerry Griffin leads the network’s People & Culture. She oversees learning & development, recruiting, performance management and benefits. Kerry is passionate about identifying talented people across diverse skillsets and growing careers. Her background in client service means she understands how work gets done. She partners with teams to find the right talent to deliver the best possible results. She also drives our processes and employee programs so that workdays run smoothly and our culture bonds us, yet reflects each office’s unique personality.
Chief Technology Officer
Riley directs our technology initiatives, from consulting to architecting industry-leading and status-quo breaking solutions. He fluidly guides our clients in navigating the complex, multi-faceted requirements and objectives enterprise-level implementations demand. Riley isn’t your typical tech leader. His understanding of design thinking, his passion to do more with integrated technology to achieve brand goals, and his easy partnership style make him invaluable on any initiative. The firm he founded in 2003 has become the core of MERGE’s capabilities and vision.
Kellie is comfortable with complexity, significant challenges and the need for change. She oversees client service, leads new client partnerships, and maximizes team effectiveness. Kellie is known for transforming something strong into something superb. She identifies the right approach and creates a collaborative environment that delivers results and client growth. Her 20+ years of experience in integrated marketing communications, strategic planning and brand development infuses high-performing solutions across industries and consumer segments.
EVP, Media Director
Bob leads all media activity, overseeing our planning and buying capabilities. He works closely with our creative, strategy and technology teams to deliver innovative solutions that engage consumers at every turn – from mobile to social to traditional media. Bob knows what it takes for clients to thrive in the ever-evolving media landscape. His expertise in digital media, data analytics and performance marketing inform his thoughtful, often ground-breaking solutions for clients. Ad Age named him a Media Maven for his forward-thinking about the industry.
EVP, Head of Design
Lauren leads strategic design by elevating brands through thoughtful, curated visual systems that bolster our tech solutions and push beyond the expected. With a pulse on design trends and best practices, Lauren creates powerful user experiences that connect design thinking to the full touchpoint ecosystem. She makes every interaction meaningful, looks to simplify and fine-tune, balances functional and emotive drivers, and pushes for nuances that make for uncommonly delightful moments. The firm she founded in 2003 has become the core of MERGE’s capabilities and vision.