Creatives Behind Dove 'Evolution' Depart Ogilvy

Nancy Vonk, Janet Kestin to Launch a Talent Incubator

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The minds behind Ogilvy's award-winning Dove "Evolution" campaign, co-chief creative officers Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin, are leaving the network's Toronto office after 13 years to launch a new venture dubbed "Swim."

Swim is meant to be a training ground for both ad creatives and clients that will give participants the tools they need to climb the ladder. The name "Swim," explained Ms. Vonk in a statement, comes from the idea that agencies today are no longer investing enough time or resources into training talent and "it's pretty much 'sink or swim' ... and a lot of talented people sink."

Nancy Vonk
Nancy Vonk
Janet Kestin
Janet Kestin

Ms. Vonk added: "Every CD we've talked to concurs: The next generation of leaders is missing. Wherever you look, careers are stalling, work is suffering and retention is poor. We're pushing up against that ."

The first classes begin next month, and both creatives will serve as teachers. Every session includes both online and in-person components, and Ms. Kestin described the whole experience in a statement as "intense, scary, fun and transformative." There's also a client-training component to get marketers thinking more creatively as they tackle problems in their own companies. Ms. Vonk and Ms. Kestin say the program will help marketers have more effective partnerships with their agencies. Check out the Facebook page for "Swim" here.

Though the venture means Ogilvy loses two top creatives in one fell swoop -- and ones that brought home the Film Grand Prix at Cannes a few years ago -- "Swim" has the agency's blessing. In fact, the WPP shop is its first client. "We have been delighted to sign up Ogilvy North America as their first major client; we are booking sessions across the North American network a year out," said Steve Simpson, Ogilvy North America's chief creative. "Swim is unique, it's highly inventive and it's really important."

Ms. Vonk and Ms. Kestin will be succeeded by Ian MacKeller, who has spent two decades on the Canadian advertising scene, clocking time at BBDO Toronto and most recently at indie shop Bensimon Byrne.

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