Montague to teach old shop new tricks

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In a move that brings a 140-year-old agency one step closer to its goal of re-invention, J. Walter Thompson last week announced the arrival of Ty Montague as exec VP-chief creative officer and co-president of the WPP Group agency's flagship New York office.

Working alongside current JWT New York President Rosemarie Ryan, and the network's worldwide CEO Bob Jeffrey, Mr. Montague's mission is to offer clients a genre of advertising that consumers will like, and, as he said, "want to spend time with."

In appointing an invitation-over-intrusion evangelist to lead one of its largest offices, J. Walter Thompson follows a move by rival Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide-also best-known for traditional approaches like 60-second Super Bowl spots-which in June appointed David Lubars as creative chief for North America. Like Mr. Montague, Mr. Lubars, who moved from Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, has won recognition for his innovative approach to marketing issues.

Just as Mr. Lubars is often singled out for his BMW Films work, Mr. Montague's reputation has bloomed on the back of the Beta-7 work for Sega and the campaign for Sharp. Beta-7 was tagged a piece of "interactive theater", while Advertising Age described the Sharp work as a "Net mystery adver-blog". That it is hard to find simple descrptions for both campaigns reflects Mr. Montague's pioneering approach to the integration of media, and his willingness to experiment by letting consumers have a hand in the evolution of marketing campaigns. Mr. Montague also worked on a documentary featuring boxer Roy Jones Jr. for Nike. Such talent, noted Mr. Jeffrey, is increasingly important today as traditional, mass media such as broadcast TV lose their efficacy.

engaging tales

Mr. Montague maintains that to capture consumers' attention, marketers and agencies must rethink what they do, and become storytellers-with tales so engaging that prospective customers will opt to listen.

That's a marked shift for a network long-viewed as slow and conservative, Mr. Jeffrey said. Since ascending to the network's top job last January, Mr. Jeffrey has pushed steadily to improve JWT's creative caliber and in the process change perceptions. "We're one of the oldest brands in the business. We have a responsibility to lead during a time of huge industry change," he said. Plans are underway for the relaunch of the network in early 2005, with a positioning that sets forth the agency's mission as buying share of consumers' time.

David Wheldon, global director-marketing and brand communications at Vodafone, which uses JWT in numerous countries, welcomes the new approach and Mr. Montague's arrival. "I do think it is long overdue. Consumers have to be engaged somehow. The old model of advertising as interruption is impossible now. New ways can be very powerful," he said.

The two worked together in the mid-'90s when Mr. Wheldon was at Coca-Cola Co. in a global role and Mr. Montague worked at Wieden & Kennedy. Other JWT New York clients include Unilever, Cadbury Schweppes, Pfizer, Jenny Craig and Welch's.

Still, the new hire by no means signals a complete departure from the agency's past. Mr. Montague, 41, is equally skilled at creating compelling, innovative ads in traditional media as last year's subtle print effort for Charles Schwab's U.S. Trust division demonstrates. "Ty's one of few people in the industry today who have such a breadth of work spanning the old and new guard," Ms. Ryan said.

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