Michael Simons Named DraftFCB, New York CCO

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After serving a dual role as regional creative director for DraftFCB in Asia-Pacific and ECD/managing director of DraftFCB, Sydney, Australian native Michael Simons is headed to the agency's New York office to take on the position of chief creative officer.

Simons, who has spent the last decade at DraftFCB working out of its Sydney office, has spearheaded notable campaigns including the politically-charged "Ban the Boot" initiative for Nike in 2001. Prior to his tenure at DraftFCB, Simons crisscrossed the globe working at agencies including Y&R, D'Arcy and Wieden +Kennedy, Portland, where he served as creative director. Among other projects at W+K, Simons helped create a TV campaign for Nike Australia called "Roo Boy", which won "Best Campaign" two years running at the Australian A.W.A.R.D. awards.

At DraftFCB, New York, Simons replaces outgoing CCO Chris Becker, who will reportedly be working somewhere in the agency's global network. After having just landed in the Big Apple, Simons spoke to Creativity about his new role.

How did this position come about?

I have had the great privilege of working within our organization in various places around the world. In truth, that's allowed me to be exposed to my colleagues who are in a position to offer me this gig.

You've crisscrossed the globe working for various agencies but you've settled for a while at DraftFCB? How come?

I am a creative nomad. When I moved to DraftFCB in Sydney, it was a conscious plan to build a career within the agency. I've moved around so much and while that's fantastic for expanding your mind, it's not the best way to build up your bank balance or financial credit. So, I decided it was time to stop wandering and put down some roots.

What to do you hope to achieve in your new role?

Chris Becker and I are very close and I respect and adore the man. I hope to continue the good work that he's started and hope that he'll respect what I'm doing. He had a fantastic thing going there a few years ago and for whatever reason the momentum got lost. But I think they have made the hard decisions and the tough calls. [Draft, New York president] Peter DeNunzio and I have spent a lot of time talking about what we're going to do. I'm really excited what we can do.

To be frank, in my mind, the plan is to really deliver on the potential of what the merger of Draft and FCB means. I've seen it really work in places like New Zealand and other places like Brazil. The plan is to make New York work like that as well. You've got to be strong in New York and London, and it's flattering to have been singled out to work towards achieving that.

What will be Draft, New York's creative focus?

My objective is that this agency should not have a house style. One of the cornerstones of the merger between Draft and FCB is that you have every discipline covered. They all come together and contribute on equal footing.

I've always been a bit of a contrarian when it comes to being a creative person. Even though I'm from that generation, I'm not one of those folks that loved TV for the sake of TV. But now is the best time in history to be a creative director. You've got every option and ideas can come from anywhere. It's just being open to that and steering that. It's very much an idea management role rather than a traditional creative director's role.

The role has been getting more multi-dimensional.

If you're a creative person and you haven't been reengineering yourself over the last 10-15 years, you're in a funny place right now.
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