He is also known for his Aussie charm, slick good looks and the energy of a former professional athlete. Next month, Mr. Gosper arrives in New York as the new general manager of McCann-Erickson Worldwide, a job that will require him to go beyond the superficial qualities of a good front man that come so easily to him. He must also rediscover the entrepreneurial skills that helped make his former agency, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, one of the most successful London shops of the mid-to-late 1990s.
McCann initially interviewed Mr. Gosper for a job in London, where the agency was about to part ways with its U.K. chairman Ben Langdon (local nickname: Osama ben Langdon). Mr. Gosper had been offered a somewhat-vague-sounding global role to be created at Havas' Euro RSCG Worldwide in New York. That inspired McCann to consider Mr. Gosper for the U.S., where the sudden death in May of Mark Gault, McCann's regional director for North America, left the stunned agency short of management talent for the future. Mr. Gosper says the McCann job is "more tangible" than the proposed Euro RSCG position.
"I want to be part of the New York advertising landscape," he said. "I want to get into the heart and soul of the U.S. ad market."
Mr. Gosper has already proved his adaptability in the ad markets of Australia, France and the U.K. He joined Ogilvy & Mather as a trainee in 1981 in Melbourne, Australia. In 1983, as a member of Australia's national rugby squad, he took a sabbatical from advertising to accept a six-month contract with Racing Club de Paris, one of France's top rugby teams.
Under Ogilvy's wing
The day before he was due to return to Australia, Mr. Gosper contacted Ogilvy in Paris and was welcomed by David Ogilvy himself, who installed the young Australian in the office next door and took him under his wing. Mr. Gosper was later poached by BDDP (now TBWA Paris) as head of international accounts.
In 1994 he moved to London as chief executive of newly minted Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper. Throughout the second half of the 1990s, Mr. Gosper and Mark Wnek, the executive creative director, built a formidable partnership as co-chairmen with an outstanding new-business record. Their swagger and confidence became a defining feature of the London ad scene during the boom.
Now McCann hopes to capture that fresh energy for its flagship office. Eric Keshin, the former general manager who succeeded Mr. Gault as regional director of McCann-Erickson North America, said of Mr. Gosper: "He is very entrepreneurial. He took something from nothing and made it successful-a quality that is valuable no matter where you are. It's obvious he's a doer. This job is not about administration; it's about driving clients' business and keeping the momentum going."
Name: Brett Gosper
Now: General manager, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York
Challenge: Add management talent to help McCann bounce back from Interpublic Group of Cos.' problems.