Lescarbeau joins Ogilvy New York as GCD

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Ogilvy's Mike Lescarbeau
Ogilvy's Mike Lescarbeau
Mike Lescarbeau is back in the spotlight after several years of freelancing, joining Ogilvy & Mather New York as a group creative director. After launching his career at Fallon in which the young copywriter once won five One Show pencils in one eyar, he went on to run creative departments at Hill Holliday, Leagas Delaney, a return stint at Fallon and startup One & All. In the past few years Lescarbeau has been freelancing, but he's decided on returning to full-time agency work with Ogilvy & Mather/New York as a Group Creative Director.

So what have you been up to in the last few years? What made you want to stop freelancing?

It's important to understand all of it, and know the whole picture. The whole picture is so important when it comes to a campaign. Just plugging in the writing portion, or a commercial or two, it's not what the business is about now. It's really about what it all is, together. One of the outfits I talked to and felt that was speaking the truth as opposed to just talking about it was Ogilvy, they just kind of do it.

So the biggest difference is you're going to be able to take the long view of things, see them from a higher place?

When you've been a creative director for a long time and you've had your own business it's difficult to go in and just say 'Here's some ads, I hope you can use them.' There were instances where I would run pitches or things like that as a freelancer, but at that point you're really not as plugged into the agency apparatus as you want to be; it becomes imperative right now to have that control over how all of it's working together. I wanted to go into a situation where people were already doing that so I didn't have to invent anything.

The key thing to me was being able to go to a place like Ogilvy, where they've demonstrated the ability to do that. There were so many people; if I had a nickel for every outfit that was talking the talk right now, and the talk changes per week, per issue of whatever trade pub...then you've got people who had to figure it out, for great big clients no less, and are able to take on new ideas and implement them in a big way without designing a new business model.

So you've looking at accepting these new changes, or the way the industry's changing, within this large agency framework...

It's like embracing it, you've got to, as a creative person, be interested and excited about the different things you can do now. At the same time, that's all theory and babbling until somebody's actually getting it done in an agency format. You've got in Ogilvy a place that's done that, and is doing that, and can accommodate things that are different because of what they have that works, as opposed to inventing or trying to re-invent things. My BS meter goes off so quickly because I ran into it so many times, where people talked about doing things but really didn't have the wherewithal to get them done. Things within campaigns, people are always saying 'oh yeah, we can make this deal with this kind of company' and then it'll be this kind of things, all of a sudden everybody's really excited about something and they realize they've never made a deal like that in their lives. Unfortunately, that's where you get in a situation where you revert to type and just do an ad. A lot of these people have the best intentions but if you don't have a company that has relationships and the business acumen to make interesting things happen, then you wind up in this great big hypothetical world for months on end.

I went into Ogilvy and they have [co-chief creative officers] Chris [Wall] and David [Apicella] and Jan [Leth] shoulder to shoulder attacking things, as opposed to different departments at cross purposes, and you can see that's why it's working. They embraced all of this early enough to have digested all of the organizational change that is necessary to be truly 360 about this stuff.

Are there any brands are you excited to be working on?

DHL is the first thing that I'm working on; I really want to focus there. It's an international account; it's in a great competitive set. There's been great work done in the category, and they've done some great work. I don't know how my role will expand over time, but I really want to focus and stay with something long enough to have some real impact with it.
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