Together, Ms. DeCourcy and Mr. Fitzloff will take on many of the
responsibilities that were earlier overseen by John Jay, who has
just hung up his global executive creative director hat
to launch a new venture under an agency called W+K Garage, and
Iain Tait, who departed last spring for Google
Ms. DeCourcy started Socialistic quietly
in late 2010; in January 2011, Paris-based holding company Havas
took a stake in the shop. She has transferred her equity
in the agency back to Havas, but her departure calls into question
the fate of operation.
Havas is retaining the Socialistic brand, but putting it
underneath the brand entertainment and social agency Cake, which
the holding company bought in 2008. In the U.S, the dozen or so
employees of Socialistic will now report to Adrian Pettett,
managing director of Cake.
"Running your own agency is an amazing thing and a hard thing,"
Ms. Decourcy told Ad Age. "At this point in my career and my life
it wasn't a quick jump. ... There are very few things I would have
[left my agency] for." She noted that the kind of work she
ultimately aspires to make is much larger than solely social media
or content, and joining Wieden & Kennedy will provide her with
a larger canvas to do that.
Wieden & Kennedy approached Ms. DeCourcy about the
global-executive-creator-director position about six months ago,
and she was first person they interviewed for the role, according
to longtime Wieden exec Dave Luhr. Although they felt she was the
right fit, they did some more due diligence, talking to others in
the U.S. and in Europe, before circling back to Ms. DeCourcy.
Ms. DeCourcy's background includes global experience from her
time as chief digital officer at Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide, where
she spent a large chunk of her career, as well as creative
experience as chief creative officer at Omnicom's Organic working
on Chrysler (now a Wieden & Kennedy client). But her new post
will bring with it a major cultural adjustment. She's spent her
entire career working inside big agencies or in partnership with
large holding companies, and now she's entering the fiercely
independent, opinionated culture at Wieden & Kennedy. "I have
always worked inside of a network, and the freedom to move quickly
and be nimble is repeatedly the thing you run up against," Ms.
DeCourcy said. "The independence here is the thing that makes me
feel like it is home. I feel relieved ... I think it's one
albatross that will never have to be around my neck again."
"I don't how know the hell she survived in those holding-company
agencies," said Mr. Fitzloff. As Ms. DeCourcy's partner, he will
shoulder some of the responsibility of helping her adjust to the
new environment. He first joined the agency in 1999 as a
copywriter, working on the AltaVista, Nike and Coca-Cola accounts,
then worked as a creative director on Old Spice before being
promoted to run the Portland office creatively. "So much of our
mythology and the secret sauce of Wieden & Kennedy is about
partnership, and a partnership of opposites," he said. "It's risky
because nine times out of 10 it's a complete disaster." But in the
case of Ms. DeCourcy, he's confident it will work, given they have
had mutual respect from the start. "She knew what I did, I knew
what she did and there was no real posturing about it or hyperbole.
It was a real natural affection and appreciation. Even at Wieden
& Kennedy, there's politics and shit you have to put up with
sometimes, which is why you can't show any cracks [in a
His hope is that her arrival will help elevate the quality of
the agency's digital creative output. "We have to make the impact
that we have through broadcast at this agency digitally," Mr.
Fitzloff said. "It's not anywhere close to what we feel we owe the
industry to deserve the reputation we have."
She's joining at one of the busiest times of the year for Wieden
& Kennedy, which is consistently one of the agencies behind
Super Bowl ads. For the past several years, it's been responsible
for Coke's commercials in the big game and will likely be creating
at least one of the three spots the beverage maker has purchased.
It's also going to be creating a Super Bowl ad for Oreo for the first
time, after winning a pitch for the work.
The additions of Ms. DeCourcy and Mr. Fitzloff to Wieden &
Kennedy's global executive management team have sparked a number of
other promotions as well -- a sign that Dan Wieden, who founded the
shop in 1982 with David Kennedy, is actively setting up the next
generation that will lead the indie shop. They've vowed it will
never be sold; as Mr. Wieden told Ad Age a couple of years ago:
"We'll blow this thing up before we sell."
Partner and Global Chief Operating Officer Dave Luhr will become
president. Joe Staples is being promoted to executive creative
director of the Portland office. Mr. Staples will replace Mr.
Fitzloff on the Portland management team, partnering with Susan
Hoffman and Tom Blessington.
As for Mr. Wieden, he's stepping back farther, moving into a
chairman role. "I don't think we've ever had a chairman, but now I
am -- albeit an active one," he said in a statement. "Between Dave
and Mark, we have 40 years of proven W+K experience, respect and
leadership. This level of talent and experience gave me the
confidence to search outside the agency to find a third global
management team member with digital expertise. Colleen brings an
energy and a knowledge base that is second to none. I am convinced
that our next 30 years are going to be pretty damn exciting."