Rick Carpenter Steps Down at DDB Chicago

Omnicom Shop Searching for Replacement; North American President Mark O'Brien to Oversee Office on Interim Basis

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- In another shakeup in DDB Worldwide's top ranks, Rick Carpenter has resigned from his post as president and CEO from the Omnicom agency's Chicago office, effective year-end. Mark O' Brien, the newly appointed North American president of DDB, will step in as interim head of that office while the network searches for Mr. Carpenter's replacement.

DDB's Chicago office is one of the most critical in the network, overseeing the long-standing Anheuser-Busch and McDonald's accounts, as well as other blue-chip clients such as Capital One, Safeway, State Farm and Mars Inc.'s Wrigley.

This is the second senior executive change at the office in a matter of weeks. Mr. O' Brien, formerly DDB North America's chief operating officer, in early December became North American president of DDB, replacing Dick Rogers. Mr. Rogers, who has been with DDB for 35 years, became chairman of DDB North America. In addition, the office had lacked a chief creative officer until May, when Ewan Paterson came on from CHI in London, ending a nearly two-year search for a replacement for the late Paul Tilley.

Mr. Carpenter, 52, joined DDB Chicago in 2007, after 18 years at DDB, Los Angeles, where he was chief creative officer and then president. Prior to DDB, Los Angeles, Mr. Carpenter worked at Della Femina, McNamee/WCRS, Ogilvy & Mather and Dailey & Associates.

"Rick has been with us for 22 years, and this is not a change that's easy for him or easy for us," Mr. O' Brien told Ad Age. "He's been a great leader for the agency. I admire and respect his decision at a time when we have to make a great deal of change at the agency. We felt like we needed a new infusion of talent and skills here. He's going to move on and do something new."

On the importance of the Chicago office, Mr. O' Brien said: "There's nothing more important for me to do than to make sure that we are the agency we need to be at DDB, Chicago. DDB, Chicago, has always been a beacon for DDB around the world. The whole network is looking to us to do great work and win a lot of new business. That's going to be my focus: Sit in on an interim basis and help Ewan to really implement the vision he brought with him in making DDB, Chicago, a great agency again."

"There are very obvious and clear things we need to do," said Mr. Paterson. "We need to make structural changes; we need to make creative changes; we need to get creativity back on top of the agenda." And, he said, "We need to do those quickly."

Asked about his future plans, Mr. Carpenter said he's currently weighing "a couple of options."

"I love the agency world and in all likelihood will stay in the agency business, but considering the changes in our industry, I could just as easily apply my experience and skills to any number of companies that place a high value on creativity to build brand and build business."

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