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We Are Unlimited Gains Creative Firepower With Ari Weiss' First Hire

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DDB North America Chief Creative Officer Ari Weiss has made his first creative hire since joining the Omnicom agency in February: Toygar Bazarkaya, known for his creative work at Havas and BBDO, will become the first chief creative officer of the dedicated McDonald's agency We Are Unlimited as of May 15.

Toygar Bazarkaya (r.) was appointed as the Chief Creative Officer for We Are Unlimited, McDonald's creative agency of record by DDB North America's CCO Ari Weiss.
Toygar Bazarkaya (r.) was appointed as the Chief Creative Officer for We Are Unlimited, McDonald's creative agency of record by DDB North America's CCO Ari Weiss. Credit: Mark Seliger

"Toygar is the type of creative who does really brilliant work consistently for really big clients, and that's rare," said Weiss. "He understands what it takes to really drive a brand forward versus doing fun, creative work that just speaks to the industry."

Which is crucial to Bazarkaya, who told Ad Age that creativity should be used "as a multiplier."

"Business results are extremely important because otherwise we're missing the mark and when you have success in the market, it's good for the work that comes next," he said.

Weiss said Bazarkaya, who until mid-April was chief creative officer of the Americas and chairman of the Global Creative Council for Havas Worldwide, is a good fit for the new agency because of his love for social media, data and technology. We Are Unlimited uses a strategy model called The Cortex, which claims to give the shop data-informed views of customers through real-time insights from experts across digital, social, retail and behavior. In addition to pulling talent from Omnicom agencies, We Are Unlimited embeds team members from companies such as The Marketing Store, Facebook and Google.

We Are Unlimited is a "game changer," Bazarkaya said, because it's an integrated model with people all working toward the same ambitions. "It feels like our industry has put us and brands in a position where you either take the best-in-class agencies and then you have five of them and clients have to coordinate them, which is less than optimal and doesn't work out well, or you find agencies trying to hire all disciplines and you get it and it's just okay, but [We Are Unlimited] is both in a brilliant way," he said.

Bazarkaya, who has earned more than 600 awards, including over 20 Cannes Lions for 12-plus brands, swears he won't find working on McDonald's all day, every day, boring. "To tame the best and understand how it works and get it into a rhythm takes a year or two," said Bazarkaya.

Weiss added that the team is currently creating 5,000 to 6,000 pieces of content in North America per year for the fast-food giant. Weiss said We Are Unlimited made a deal with McDonald's to not pitch for other business for 18 months, but after that, the shop will have the opportunity to bring in new accounts.

"I think that's the exact right amount of time because this is big and we're doing something that no one has really done," said Bazarkaya. "Nobody can work on one brand forever. You'll burn out. But that's the least of my worries for the next two years."

As for what this means for We Are Unlimited being called a "dedicated McDonald's agency," Weiss said, "That'll be something we'll have to deal with when we get to it."

Bazarkaya, who will report to Weiss and relocate to Chicago for the gig, plans on making several creative hires rather quickly. He said the team has already been doing good work and now the focus is on fine-tuning.

When Bazarkaya saw the latest McDonald's campaign from We Are Unlimited, which doesn't mention the brand at all and banks on the fast-feeder's reputation as the best place to have Coca-Cola, he said he loved it and got even more excited for his role. "It's bold and crazy, but it makes all the sense in the world and that's the work we want," he said.

During his time at Havas, Bazarkaya worked on a wide array of major brands, such as IBM, Liberty Mutual, Dos Equis, Sony, TD Ameritrade and Reckitt Benckiser. Before that, he spent six years at BBDO New York, working on global accounts, including Visa, Gillette, Campbell, HP, Mars and Major League Baseball. He also previously served as chief creative officer of BBDO Germany.