Five Questions for Ewan Paterson

DDB Chicago's Incoming Creative Chief on Why He Joined the Agency and What to Expect From Him There

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Ewan Paterson starts as executive creative director at DDB, Chicago, next week, finally filling a post that's been vacant since the February 2008 death of Paul Tilley.

Ewan Paterson
Ewan Paterson
In Mr. Paterson, 47, DDB is landing one of London's most acclaimed creative talents and also one of its most familiar, having run DDB's London creative department before leaving in 2004 for a creative director post at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, where he worked on British Airways and Boddington's Beer.

A copywriter by trade, he moved from there to another hot shop, Clemmow Hornby Inge & Partners, where British ad trade Campaign ranked him the No. 4 creative director in the U.K. in December 2008, noting that he was "widely credited with turning around the creative product at CHI." Among Mr. Paterson's most-acclaimed campaigns has been the shop's effort for the Drench bottled-water band, which included creating a jazz band full of hamsters.

Now he'll get to try his hand with Clydesdales, as he joins an agency that -- despite recent account losses and layoffs -- still counts the likes of Anheuser-Busch and McDonald's as clients.

Ad Age caught up with Mr. Paterson by phone recently as he prepared to move his wife and young twins to the Chicago suburb of Wilmette.

Ad Age: Why are you leaving CHI for DDB??

Mr. Paterson: Well, first of all, I worked for DDB for 10 years. It's where I learned the industry and I have great affection for it. I think DDB, Chicago, can be the best agency in the world. Brilliant client list. And great work is in its DNA.

Ad Age: What recent work out of Chicago impresses you?

Mr. Paterson: At the moment, I think Bud House [the online reality show DDB built for Anheuser-Busch's World Cup sponsorship] is a fantastic idea, with a lot of brilliant insights into football. And I think a lot of the work on McDonald's is brilliant. Going back a bit, when I first visited in 2004, they were doing "Real Men of Genius" [for Bud Light] and that was just fantastic work that was really loved by the people.

Ad Age: How should be we expect the agency's creative output to change under your leadership?

Mr. Paterson: What I've tried to do is create an idea that's media neutral. We want to create ideas that work in any media. A lot of people say, "Digital is the answer." But, really, the answer is integrated. It has to be about participation and getting ideas people want to be involved in. "Wassup" was a brilliant example of how those kinds of ideas can come from DDB, Chicago.

Ad Age: You're coming from overseas to work on some of the most iconic heartland-American brands, brands like Budweiser and McDonald's and State Farm. Does that make the job more challenging?

Mr. Paterson: Well, when I was at BBH they set up the New York office there, and I led DDB [which worked on McDonald's]. These are big, heartland American brands and I am coming from [London]. But the idea is king, isn't it? I'll have great people around me to help [with the transition].

Ad Age: You said earlier that you wanted DDB, Chicago, to be the best agency in the world. Who do you think holds that title now?

Mr. Paterson: What Goodby Silverstein has achieved in the last five years is fantastic. I also admire BBH in London. [DDB Chicago] has been a great agency like that in the past, and I think it's got great talent to get back there.

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