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In an unconventional move to improve its creative work, J. Walter Thompson Co. will base a portion of the pay of CEOs, heads of planning and creative directors on the agency's creative output.

Chairman-CEO Burt Manning said the program is aimed at "making creative the single most important priority inside."

Beginning in January, major JWT operations will submit work from 1996 representative of all key clients and covering relevant media. Mr. Manning, Worldwide Creative Directors Allen Thomas and Jim Patterson, and Co-Presidents Peter Schweitzer and Chris Jones will judge the work against the previous year's creative.


JWT will then reward and penalize the agency's top employees based on the panel's review. The top 5% of the company will have 10% to 30% of their scheduled bonuses affected by the plan.

Mr. Manning said JWT is instituting the program to put more creative responsibility on managers and account leaders.

"They can't say good creative work is just the job of the creative director," he said. "Creative responsibility is seated at the top of the company."


Agencies often tie executive pay to a company's financial performance, but linking top-management compensation to a subjective criteria like creative work is a new approach.

Mr. Manning said creative will be judged on basic requirements: relevancy, good taste, how well it presents the brand idea and truthfulness. Beyond the basics, the panel is looking at the intensity of the response the advertising generates.

Mr. Manning said the program will encourage all employees "to support and defend creative work."


JWT New York Creative Director J.J. Jordan supports the program.

"I think it'll help motivate my colleagues," Mr. Jordan said. "It gives everybody else an extra incentive to get behind the best work."

Susan Gianinno, general manager of JWT, New York, said the program will aid in global branding efforts, a process she said sometimes compromises creativity.

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