Garfinkel signs on at D'Arcy

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It should be a marriage made in advertising heaven-a man known as having one of the industry's best creative minds heading up what is, arguably, one of the least creative agencies.

Lee Garfinkel was appointed president-chief creative officer worldwide for Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles effective Aug. 13. Mr. Garfinkel, 46, was chairman-chief creative officer at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe Lintas & Partners for eight years before leaving in January.

"There's incredible potential at D'Arcy," Mr. Garfinkel said. "The landscape of advertising is so dull that there's an opportunity for an agency to make a difference for itself and its clients."

The move marks the most significant hiring yet by President-CEO John Farrell and President-Chief Branding Officer Susan Gianinno since being elevated last fall to top spots. Mr. Farrell moved from regional CEO to worldwide CEO, and Ms. Gianinno took on the additional title of president.

The two have been intent on changing the perception of a lack of creativity at the agency, which handles clients including Philips Electronics, Bristol-Myers Squibb, General Motors Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co. "Head on. It's the only way to attack [the perception], by making it real," Ms. Gianinno said. "We're talking to all our clients about quality and creativity. The reality is, over the last several years, D'Arcy has taken a number of steps to transform itself."

Mr. Garfinkel was particularly close with the Heineken USA account at Lowe, but it's unlikely the business would shift, considering that D'Arcy handles Molson Brewing Co.'s business. In fact, D'Arcy's best recent work was for Molson's "Rant" commercial, created by the Toronto office, which won a Bronze Lion at the International Advertising Festival at Cannes. The agency is also known for a well-received campaign for P&G's Pampers that features the Rod Stewart song "Forever Young."

With Mr. Garfinkel aboard, the leadership structure of the company was changed to form a three-pronged attack, with Mr. Farrell and Ms. Gianinno now sharing top duties with Mr. Garfinkel. D'Arcy's previous worldwide creative was John Nieman, who left in May 2000. Peter Angelos is the North American creative director.

Mr. Garfinkel is widely respected in the creative community and brings to D'Arcy a reputation as an executive who can turn an agency around. "If they've hired Lee to turn around creative, they've probably done a smart thing," said Mary Warlick, executive director of the One Club.

After working on numerous award-winning campaigns at now-defunct Levine Huntley Schmidt & Beaver, New York in the '80s, Mr. Garfinkel went on to Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, where he worked primarily on PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola account.

His move to Lowe & Partners in 1992 as vice chairman and chief creative officer marked a turning point in the shop's fortunes. Mr. Garfinkel oversaw a creative department in transition and set out to improve the body of work for a widely disparate client list. Working with a group of Lowe holdovers and former Levine and BBDO colleagues, his team scored early hits with work for Coca-Cola Co.'s Diet Coke and Sprite. Within a year, Lowe merged with Scali McCabe Sloves, which brought with it the Mercedes-Benz USA account. It soon became the agency's showcase piece of business.

In the seven months he has spent on the sidelines, Mr. Garfinkel said he wrote several articles on the state of advertising that he has yet to submit, and also watched a lot of TV commercials. "You know you've been watching too much TV when you hear ` Y&R' and you think `Young and the Restless,"' he said. "But the sad thing is, I'd watch these commercials and then I'd go out shopping and realize that not one person's decision was based on the advertising I saw."

Contributing: Hillary Chura and Anthony Vagnoni

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