Mr. Ferguson will join Interpublic
"Being able to move into a position as creative director and to guide the agency is something I've been wanting," Mr. Ferguson said. "Could the timing be worse? Probably not, but that's life."
Mr. Ferguson, a Texas native, said wants to be closer to his family. Mr. Ferguson on most weekends would fly home to be with his daughters and even took one of the girls to this year's International Advertising Festival at Cannes.
McDonald's ultimately gave lead creative duties for its soon-to-debut campaign, built around the tagline "I'm Lovin' It," to Heye & Partner, a unit of DDB based in Germany. He said the fast-food giant's decision did not play a role his decision. "This has nothing to do with anything other than my life," he said.
Search is on for replacement
"As a friend and father I certainly understand it," said Bob Scarpelli, DDB Chicago's chairman and U.S. chief creative officer. Mr. Scarpelli said he will reach out to candidates internally and externally, including those he was considering before he brought back his longtime colleague to the agency as it prepared for McDonald's global idea competition.
"I will try to move quickly, but Ferg is here at least through Oct. 1," he said. He wouldn't name his shortlist but he ruled out Dennis Ryan, chief creative officer at sibling Element 79, Chicago, and Jim Schmidt, chief creative officer at Havas' Euro RSCG Tatham Partners, Chicago. Both had been rumored as candidates in the earlier hunt for a top creative on the McDonald's account.
Meanwhile, much of the agency is helping to prepare creative for the Sept. 29 U.S. leg of the McDonald's campaign rollout. He declined to elaborate but said he was happy with the agency's progress.