Four months after JWT brought in new senior leadership to oversee North America--the WPP agency stunned adland when it secured Jeff Benjamin, who was previously at MDC Partners' CP&B, and Mike Geiger, who was at Goodby Silverstein & Partners --it has appointed a new team to oversee creative for JWT, New York.
Ryan Kutscher, who previously served as a creative director at CP&B, and Matt MacDonald, who's been executive creative director at JWT New York, have been named co-chief creative officers of the network's flagship New York office. In their new post as co-CCOs, Mr. MacDonald, 36, and Mr. Kutscher, 33, will be responsible for the creative output of the office, which handles clients such as Macy's, Nestle, Bloomberg, HSBC, Diageo's Smirnoff Vodka and Rolex. They will report to Mr. Benjamin, who serves as JWT North America Chief Creative Officer.
The duo fills a slot that's been vacant since January, when Peter Nicholson exited JWT concurrently with the arrival of Messrs. Benjamin and Geiger.
Mr. Benjamin told Ad Age he became familiar with Mr. Kutscher's work when they worked together at CP&B. "Ryan was the one that would always lend a hand, and that's where we developed a working relationship--but also friendship--and it led to great, exciting work." In the past couple of months, Mr. Benjamin brought his former coworker in to quietly freelance for JWT, which has been helping to get him familiar with the way the agency works. Regarding Mr. MacDonald, Mr. Benjamin said: "I thought it was important to promote from within and you need people on your team who understand the culture of the place...he's the person I can count on for having the wisdom [about JWT]."
Mr. MacDonald joined JWT as a copywriter in 2003, and in 2010, was promoted to executive creative director. His work has included the "The Magic of Macy's" campaign for the department store and the "Welcome Bigwigs" work for former client JetBlue, among other things. "There's new energy, new talent, and a new commitment to the spirit of inventiveness," at the agency said Mr. MacDonald in a statement about his promotion.
Mr. Kutscher began his advertising career at CP&B, working on Burger King, Miller Lite, Volkswagen, Harley-Davidson and others. During his time there, he was named one of Creativity's creatives to watch. He left in 2009 to freelance as an independent creative director. "There are many great jobs and great agencies in the world, but for me the most important quality is the sense of being on a mission," said Mr. Kutscher in a statement. "Matt and I are enlisting with Jeff, Mike Geiger, [JWT North America CEO] David Eastman, and the whole crew to reinvent JWT, New York. It'll be very challenging, and very fun. There's a lot of pressure, but an equal amount of opportunity for success. So, if I don't screw this up, it should be pretty sweet."
The co-CCO structure is one that's been employed in adland with mixed success. Asked why JWT opted for two executives for the role rather than one, Mr. Benjamin said: "There's a lot of surface area that needs to be covered...and if it's just one person you often can't get the vision and leadership that you need. Nobody can be an expert in all of these things, so the best bet you can make is to put together a team. When it doesn't work it's probably because of chemistry, and I know that it's going to work because I've worked with Ryan before, have been working with Matt now, and we have got the [right] chemistry."
All told, there have been a slew of big changes in 2012 for the agency, which took nearly two years to find replacements for its previous North American leadership team of Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague. They left to start their own company, dubbed Co.
Mr. Benjamin stressed that his goal is to not make changes for the sake of them, and have everyone blindly follow what he's doing. In some ways, he said, the shop is trying to unearth best practices and replicate its biggest successes from years past, rather than reinvent the agency: "It's discovering what made JWT successful in the past and how can we get back to that."
Check out a video the agency made announcing the news in its town hall: