No Rush for Agencies to Replace Bigwig Creative Chiefs
Over the last year, a number of well-known creative leaders have left their respective posts, but despite the gap they left behind, most of the agencies haven't felt the need or pressure to quickly fill the role.
AKQA, whose global chief creative Rei Inamoto left in September 2015, has no immediate plans to bring on a new worldwide creative leader.
"The idea for us is to build teams and leadership that scale beyond any single individual," said AKQA co-founder and CEO Ajaz Ahmed. "Instead it's about embedding the culture, values and DNA of the company in everyone so people can build strong careers and partnership by being involved in creating great work for clients."
He added that when examining the specific role of a chief creative officer and how to best achieve it, AKQA has "always looked ahead at what's next and building for the future."
One of the reasons the agency is hired by clients and sought out by future employees is because of its pioneering ideas, said Mr. Ahmed. "That means it's not about working in one format but continually keeping things moving forward so that we're applying art and science in an inspirational, imaginative way," he said.
Anne-Marie Marcus, CEO of recruiting firm Marcus St. Jean, said she's thinks agencies sometimes buy themselves time by saying they're not going to fill the role.
"Those can be long, painful and difficult searches," she said. "It is to find that unique person with everything that is asked of them nowadays, and it's such an incredibly difficult role with a combination of talent that you can rarely find in one person."
In December, Tor Myhren, Grey Worldwide chief creative officer and New York president, left the agency to join Apple as its VP-marketing communications. Mr. Myhren, who was with Grey for about eight years, is known for transforming the previously lethargic shop into one of the most creative agencies in the advertising world.
Grey is not currently replacing Mr. Myhren, and the agency is "going to take our time" in naming a successor, said Grey Chief Communications Officer Owen Dougherty.
"Tor organically grew in the role he was in and really earned that global role as the worldwide chief creative officer, so we shall see what the future brings, but we're in no rush to replace him," he said. "We have some amazing creative officers around the world, so we're really pleased and we think we have a really strong bench of creative people currently."
Andreas Dahlqvist, who joined as New York chief creative officer at the beginning of 2015, will remain leading creative in New York. Per Pedersen, deputy worldwide chief creative officer at the shop, will continue running "the basic nuts and bolts" and the global creative counsel, added Mr. Dougherty. Mr. Pedersen has also recently been named chairman of the Grey Worldwide Creative Council, one of two hats previously worn by Mr. Myhren.
Ms. Marcus said agencies are definitely capable of carrying on day-to-day business without a chief creative. For example, Havas operated normally between losing Chief Creative Officer Darren Moran in the fall of 2014 and elevating New York Exec Creative Directors Israel Garber and Jason Musante to managing director-group exec creative director positions last February. They now lead the creative department.
"Life goes on and clients have someone at a very senior level to handle their business, but what's missing is that big cheerleader," said Ms. Marcus.
She added that if an agency can find the right executive for the role, she thinks it's a necessity because that person can be "the inspiration and guide that everyone turns to in the agency, and then it's amazing and just better."