Chicago search goes on: DDB gets Garfinkel; Droga rises

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Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide last week tapped high-profile creative director Lee Garfinkel to invigorate its New York office, but the agency network is having more difficulty recruiting a lead creative for its largest North America office, Chicago.

Mr. Garfinkel, 47, becomes DDB, New York, chairman-chief creative officer, moving from Publicis Groupe's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, where he was worldwide president-chief creative officer for 16 months.

In October, Maurice Levy, chairman-CEO of holding company Publicis Groupe, announced plans to shutter D'Arcy and offered Mr. Garfinkel the post of worldwide creative director at the Publicis Worldwide network.

Though his decision was a blow to Mr. Levy, who has striven to retain as much of D'Arcy's talent as possible, it created an opportunity for another creative star. David Droga was looking for a new challenge after three years as executive creative director at Publicis' Saatchi & Saatchi, London. Mr. Levy tapped the 34-year-old Australian to become worldwide creative director for Publicis Worldwide after Mr. Garfinkel turned down the job Dec. 11. "In David, we have a talent for the future," Mr. Levy said. "He's fresh, has a lot of enthusiasm, and is really international, which is so rare."

While the geographic scope of Mr. Garfinkel's new job is smaller than the position at Publicis Worldwide, the post presents sizable challenges. "It is an opportunity to make the New York office what Doyle Dane Bernbach was in the 1970s," said Ken Kaess, president-CEO of DDB Worldwide. "We do not think New York is broken, but we all agree there is the opportunity to make it better." In contrast to other agency networks, DDB's New York network headquarters is smaller than Chicago's in terms of employees and billings. Strengthening New York means not only improving the agency's creative output, but bringing in additional business, as well. "As New York goes, so goes the rest of the network," Mr. Kaess said. "Everyone wants to see New York strong."

improving new york

Mr. Garfinkel, like the agency's U.S. Chief Creative Bob Scarpelli, reports to Mr. Kaess. He is a partner of both Bob Kuperman, president-CEO of DDB, New York, and of Mr. Scarpelli. While his top priority is improving the New York office, Mr. Garfinkel will also work on accounts in other network offices, including Chicago.

Chicago is the network's largest office, with $1.5 billion in billings and a roster of such high-profile clients as McDonald's Corp., Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Kraft Foods. It is the base for Mr. Scarpelli, who is doing double duty as the Chicago office's creative chief since being elevated to the U.S. post in March 2000. He is currently searching for an executive for that role.

Executives with knowledge of the situation said the sticking point is finding someone who can handle the agency's largest client, the $300 million-plus McDonald's account. Mike Sheehan, group creative director on McDonald's, left two years ago to take over as president of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston. Since then, Mr. Scarpelli and Group Creative Director John Immesoete have handled the McDonald's account. However, executives said Mr. Immesoete asked off the account, although a DDB spokeswoman denied that. Mr. Immesoete did not return calls.

DDB denies the position has been hard to fill. "At some point [Mr. Scarpelli] will most likely name a chief creative officer in the Chicago office as he moves on. But at this time there is no announcement and he continues to look at his own guys and outside," said a DDB spokeswoman.

"I'd be crazy not to ask Lee for help in areas" where it is needed, said Mr. Scarpelli.

contributing: laurel wentz

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