Australian Craig Davis to Lead Agency's Global Branding Effort

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- J. Walter Thompson today named Craig Davis as its worldwide chief creative officer, a move that's part of a repositioning and rebranding for the world's oldest advertising agency.

Mr. Davis, a 42-year-old Australian native, joined the agency 10 months ago as chief creative officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, where he was regional executive creative director. Mr. Davis led the pitch that helped parent WPP Group win the account for financial services giant HSBC.

New focus
In his new role, he will work in tandem with Bob Jeffrey, CEO of the global network, to move the agency from its historical heritage in account management to a new focus on creativity and strategy. Mr. Jeffrey, as well as numerous top agency executives, including Mr. Davis and the co-president of JWT's New York office, Rosemarie Ryan, unveiled the initiative to the agency's senior ranks at a two-day meeting in Miami this week.

"The ultimate goal," Mr. Jeffrey said in a release, "is to transform JWT from a service-driven organization that is ruled by the rationale to a creative organism that is inspired by the visceral."

With worldwide revenue of $1.17 billion, J. Walter Thompson is the world's fourth-largest agency network, according to Advertising Age figures, bigger than its two WPP siblings, Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R.

The agency's repositioning includes cosmetic changes, such as changing the agency's formal name from J. Walter Thompson, after its founder, to JWT, as well as operational ones intended to promote cultural and behavioral shifts. The latter includes a new set of creative standards, used to assess work across the agency's 315 offices worldwide, as well as an evaluation tool called Health Check. It will be used by office heads to "holistically" assess the agency's business, to consider everything from each office's work, people, client relationships, reputation and financial performance.

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