John Kottmann Moves to DDB, Chicago

Accepts Chief Strategy Officer Post Just Three Months After Joining Ogilvy

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Just three months after taking up a senior post at WPP-owned Ogilvy, New York, John Kottmann is defecting to Omnicom Group's DDB.

John Kottmann
John Kottmann

The move marks one of the shortest tenures of a senior agency executive in recent times, and is reflective of new DDB, Chicago, CEO Peter McGuinness' aggressive attempt to bring in new talent to help restore the agency to its former glory. Messrs. Kottmann and McGuinness were longtime colleagues at McCann Worldgroup and worked alongside each other on MasterCard and other accounts.

"He was great with corporate, regional and local clients," said Mr. McGuinness, adding: "we also won a bunch of pitches together." No doubt the goal will be to replicate that winning streak again -- which would be helpful considering DDB's much diminished place on A-B's roster. Earlier this month, DDB Chicago was cut from the Bud Light review, signaling an end to a nearly 30-year relationship.

Mr. Kottman in his new role replaces James Lou who served as both U.S. Chief Strategy Officer and head of strategy for DDB Chicago. Mr. Lou will now focus on the U.S. full-time.

"DDB, Chicago, needs more client thought leadership and new business, and those are two things that John does really well," said Mr. McGuinness. "John also helps make the work better, so he will help create a planning culture at DDB, Chicago, where planners work early, equal and often upstream with creatives and account leaders."

Ogilvy declined to comment on the matter.

Before his brief stint at Ogilvy, Mr. Kottmann was exec VP-chief strategy officer at McCann, where he co-managed a group of 40 planners and was best known as the global planning head for the award-winning MasterCard "Priceless" campaign. He also pitched and won the massive U.S. Army account a few years ago, and earlier this year was a leader on the team that pitched to retain the business. He resigned at McCann this summer, one of a wave of senior leaders who's either left on their own or been asked to leave the Interpublic Group of Cos.' agency in the past year.

At Ogilvy, he was made senior partner and managing director of planning, and also pitched in on new-business efforts. His wealth of experience on the MasterCard brand was also seen as an asset for Ogilvy's American Express client. It seems the deal that DDB, Chicago, offered was much sweeter.

In a statement, Mr. Kottmann said he wanted to move to DDB because "it's an agency that 's always had tremendous creativity at its core" and "there's a very talented, energized team there right now."

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