TBWA plays name game, wins Jaeger for new slot

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Imagine a 24-year-old agency creative director so hot that somebody is already cybersquatting on his domain name.

The URL is www.dougjaeger.com. The target is Doug Jaeger, associate creative director and partner at J. Walter Thompson USA's interactive agency Digital@ JWT. The cybersquatter is Carl "Take No Prisoners" Johnson, president-CEO of TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York.

"I bought his URL," Mr. Johnson admitted. "And then I sent him an e-mail telling him that I had bought dougjaeger.com and he had no option but to come to my agency. I didn't quite say, `I own you.' But I said, `You've got to come now, mate.' "

Mr. Jaeger's reaction? "I said, `You got me,' " recalled Mr. Jaeger. "It made me realize that they are really smart. They really get it. And they mean business."

On May 22, Mr. Jaeger will join TBWA/Chiat/Day as its first interactive creative director. With him will be his current copywriting partner, Garth Horn, as copywriter.

SECURING DIGITAL FUTURE

Despite the new hires, Mr. Johnson is not attempting to create a new division.

"We already have relationship marketing people, interactive media people, interactive producers and a few interactive creative people," said Mr. Johnson. "This is about securing the leadership of our digital future."

"You'll be able to go to Chiat/Day to get your digital marketing done," Mr. Jaeger said. "The idea is not to create a silo; it's to have a complete offering at the agency."

Mr. Jaeger will work on digital media, online creative and marketing in partnership with Media Director Nick McClean. Both report to Mr. Johnson and David Page, New York chief creative officer.

VARIED EXPERIENCE

Mr. Jaeger entered the professional world during the summer of his junior year at Syracuse University, working for Agency.com as a designer on Lucent Technologies' site and on sites for British Airways, American Express Co. and GTE Corp. When he graduated from Syracuse, he worked as an art director at K2 Design, a Web design and marketing company. JWT recruited him last year to oversee all visual assignments for Digital@JWT that included creation of a Web site for Elizabeth Arden Co; online marketing for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Crest; Merrill Lynch & Co.; Warner-Lambert Co. brands including Listerine, Trident and Zantac 75; iPlanet; Qwest Communications; and DeBeers Consolidated mines.

"They are progressive thinkers," said Mr. Jaeger, explaining why he defected to TBWA/Chiat/Day, having worked little more than a year at Digital@JWT. "They own the industrial-strength idea. They are trying to aggressively understand how to use the Internet and technology and make it a part of what they do."

"They were hot for him and he was hot for me," said Mr. Horn, explaining his side of how he and Mr. Jaeger made the switch.

Mr. Horn was a former assistant director in commercial production, changing careers after taking classes in advertising copy- writing. Digital@JWT hired him as an assistant to Department Director Kevin Wassong.

MORE HIRES POSSIBLE

TBWA/Chiat/Day plans to hire a few more interactive creatives with whom Mr. Jaeger has worked. "He made it pretty clear that he wanted to bring his own people with him," Mr. Horn said.

What's next for www.dougjaeger.com? Mr. Jaeger said he hopes his new agency will create a Web site. Will Mr. Johnson give the URL back now that he's got Mr. Jaeger under his thumb?

"No, not yet. I'm holding on to it for future use," Mr. Johnson said with a laugh.

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