Melissa Robertson has joined Dark Horses as the sports creative agency’s first chief executive, with founder Simon Dent stepping down as managing director.
Reporting to chairman Andy Nairn, Robertson – a former founding partner at Now – will be responsible for continuing the agency’s growth alongside creative partner Steve Howell, who joined last year from Droga5, and strategy director Matt Readman, who was also hired last year.
Dark Horses’ clients include Nissan, Peloton and Vanarama.
Robertson started her career in 1994 as an account manager for Grey London, before joining Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy in 1999. MCBD later merged with Dare. During her time at MCBD, Robertson worked alongside Nairn, co-founder of Lucky Generals, which owns a stake in Dark Horses.
After a 12-year stint at the company, Robertson left to join the then-recently founded Now as founding partner and managing director.
Robertson announced her departure from Now alongside co-founder Kate Waters in December 2018, and has since been working as a consultant.
"I was looking for an exciting new challenge that capitalised on my experience but stretched me in different ways,” Robertson said.
“Being reunited with Andy and company in a category that I love is exactly the kind of happy serendipity you can only dream about.”
She added: “Dark Horses is a brilliant young agency filled with sports experts with ambitious plans, and I can't wait to help the team achieve them.”
Dent will be taking a non-executive role at Dark Horses from January, exploring new business opportunities for the agency.
He has been working as managing director of Dark Horses since its inception in June 2016.
Nairn added: "The agency has experienced stellar growth over the last four years, thanks in no small part to Simon. Now, the sports industry faces new challenges and opportunities and we're delighted to have Melissa on board.
“We have known and loved working with her for many years and think she's the perfect person to write the next chapter of our growth."