Colleen DeCourcy is decamping the social-media agency she launched two years ago with the backing of Havas to join independent network Wieden & Kennedy. Her partner will be Mark Fitzloff, a 13-year veteran of the agency who is being promoted. Together they will serve as co-global executive creative directors.
The new position makes Ms. DeCourcy one of the highest-ranked female creatives in the business. She's already relocated to Portland and plans to officially start in her new role this week.
Together, Ms. DeCourcy and Mr. Fitzloff will take on many of the responsibilities that were earlier overseen by John Jay, who has just hung up his global executive creative director hat to launch a new venture under an agency called W+K Garage, and Iain Tait, who departed last spring for Google Creative Lab.
Ms. DeCourcy started Socialistic quietly in late 2010; in January 2011, Paris-based holding company Havas took a stake in the shop. She has transferred her equity in the agency back to Havas, but her departure calls into question the fate of operation.
Havas is retaining the Socialistic brand, but putting it underneath the brand entertainment and social agency Cake, which the holding company bought in 2008. In the U.S, the dozen or so employees of Socialistic will now report to Adrian Pettett, managing director of Cake.
"Running your own agency is an amazing thing and a hard thing," Ms. Decourcy told Ad Age. "At this point in my career and my life it wasn't a quick jump. ... There are very few things I would have [left my agency] for." She noted that the kind of work she ultimately aspires to make is much larger than solely social media or content, and joining Wieden & Kennedy will provide her with a larger canvas to do that.
Wieden & Kennedy approached Ms. DeCourcy about the global-executive-creator-director position about six months ago, and she was first person they interviewed for the role, according to longtime Wieden exec Dave Luhr. Although they felt she was the right fit, they did some more due diligence, talking to others in the U.S. and in Europe, before circling back to Ms. DeCourcy.
Ms. DeCourcy's background includes global experience from her time as chief digital officer at Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide, where she spent a large chunk of her career, as well as creative experience as chief creative officer at Omnicom's Organic working on Chrysler (now a Wieden & Kennedy client). But her new post will bring with it a major cultural adjustment. She's spent her entire career working inside big agencies or in partnership with large holding companies, and now she's entering the fiercely independent, opinionated culture at Wieden & Kennedy. "I have always worked inside of a network, and the freedom to move quickly and be nimble is repeatedly the thing you run up against," Ms. DeCourcy said. "The independence here is the thing that makes me feel like it is home. I feel relieved ... I think it's one albatross that will never have to be around my neck again."
"I don't how know the hell she survived in those holding-company agencies," said Mr. Fitzloff. As Ms. DeCourcy's partner, he will shoulder some of the responsibility of helping her adjust to the new environment. He first joined the agency in 1999 as a copywriter, working on the AltaVista, Nike and Coca-Cola accounts, then worked as a creative director on Old Spice before being promoted to run the Portland office creatively.