The NY Creative shake-up: one year later

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John Hunt, worldwide creative director, TBWA

Most noted for Soothing and inspirational powers. Turning South Africa's TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris into a creative force to be reckoned with globally, with work for Bic, BMW, Nando's Chicken.

Biggest Challenge New York: making the office a true global headquarters. As worldwide creative director: actually bringing meaning to the idea of being a true "global network."

Creative rep of agency at arrival New York: a "headquarters" dwarfed creatively by its West Coast counterpart Globally: a goldmine. The network won 27 awards at Cannes last year. Most notably, Paris won Agency of the Year and the Grand Prix in Print. Six different shops won "campaign of the year" kudos from the trades, for work for Ipod, John Smith's, PlayStation

Notable newcomers Former BBDO ECD Gerry Graf to the post of NY ECD.

Notable exits Richard Overall and Simon McQuoid, CDs, left to become a directing team. Interactive creatives Doug Jaeger and Johnny Vulcan departed to start up their own design firm.

Accounts Won New York: Nextel; Masterfoods' Skittles followed Graf from BBDO in December

Accounts Lost New York resigned Kmart, and with it Joe Boxer

Creative rep now New York: Possibly on the verge of a major breakthrough; thanks to the Hunt-Graf tag team, insiders says creative morale has shot way up; Globally: the network just launched an adidas worldwide branding campaign that has started to make waves.

Word on the street now Insiders say management changes had been putting a damper on the creative output, and for some, the creative spirits, particularly on the Nextel account, with some grumbling about having to churn out sub-par work to feed the retail machine-some say people haven't exactly warmed up to management style of new president and former O&M exec Shona Seifert.

Creative Breakthroughs New York: Skillfully steered Absolut outside traditional formats-it got a starring role hiding a hunk's member and then some in an episode of Sex and the City, the gorgeous Bollywood inspired mini-film, "Absolut Mulit."

Creative Busts None, apparently, but we wonder if Nextel will live up to the Chiat name.

Mitigating Factors On Nextel, Hunt says the agency is in the process of getting to know the client and winning its trust.

Makeover Hunt implemented the "Youngblood" program, whereby he and the creative department chose the best portfolios of young creatives and offered the top six half-year terms at the agency, renewable at the end if the talents lived up to their books. In the end, five made the cut and remain on board. Globally, Hunt launched a SWAT program, which has top creatives switch offices and participate on pitches monthly.

What he said then "I don't know how to make the global creative director's job meaningful yet."

What he says now On the GCD role: "Essentially, I've been doing it on two levels-how do you improve the overall creative product? And secondly, how do you give your global clients international input? I think we've found unique and tangible ways to do that, whether it's the SWAT teams or the Youngbloods. We have a terrific set of seconds this year. Second most awarded network internationally, second at Cannes, second in Creativity. See what happens when you talk to me at the same time next year."

Lee Garfinkel, chief creative officer, DDB/ New York

Most noted for The Midas Touch. Prior to his truncated stint at D'Arcy, most everything he touched turned to gold, eventually. He transformed Lowe into a veritable creative powerhouse with groundbreaking work for Mercedes, Sprite, Heineken. Before that, he created memorable work for Pepsi at BBDO and at Levine, Huntley, Schmidt & Beaver, comedy-filled Subaru commercials.

What he stepped into The expectation of speeding up the semi-palpable creative pulse of the agency, which had turned out some memorable work for the NY Lottery as well as eye-opening, controversial AIDS PSA's (spearheaded by former ECD John Staffen, who recently left)-but hasn't matched its creative glory of the '60s.

Where he is now Possibly on the verge of real buzz, thanks to the NY office's recent win of the $20 million Cotton account as well as upcoming work for Royal Philips Electronics.

The Challenge Living up to his own insane track record and working his magic on DDB/NY to make it a true creative player.

Accounts Won

Worldwide, Philips' $600 million business; Gafinkel was instrumental in helping the agency win the Cotton account from longtime incumbent O&M; also helped to bring in beer with A-B's Amber Bock .

Accounts Lost None.

Creative Breakthroughs No splashes. Just continuing work for NY Lottery, some of which Garfinkel himself wrote and some spots for A-B Amber Bock.

Creative Busts The biggest disappointment is that 2003 work didn't live up to the hype around Garfinkel's arrival, which many believed would lead to a Bernbachian renaissance for the New York office.

Newcomers: Longtime Garfinkel cohorts John Russo and Bob Nelson re-joined him in February. Also added: D'Arcy orphans AD Carmine Coppola, the team of Yimbo Ma and Mike Sullivan, and creative services director Karen Sullivan; Mark Teringo and Barbara Eibel, formerly of McKinney & Silver. He continues to beef up, with more key hires in the coming months. Russo is also staffing up for Phillips.

Notable departures Former co-ECD John Staffen left the agency to run the NY office of Arnold.

Department Makeover Garfinkel continues to write for projects, supervise shoots, and sees 98 percent of the work that comes out of the agency. Also, he's experimenting with "The Wall of Opportunity," which will display every single brief in the agency. Any creatives will have the opportunity to take a stab at the assignments, even if they aren't signed to the job.

What he said then "The most important thing [at DDB] is to explain to people what my standards of advertising are. I hate most advertising, and I'm disappointed in most movies and television. I was asked recently if my standards are too high for advertising. No, I think that everyone else's are too low."

What he says now "For me it's less about making a big mark right out of the box. It's really about putting this plan in place for the long term. And it's not just about doing good work on one or two pieces of business, the goal is to get great work on every account that we have. That's not going to change overnight. But we won some additional business last year, the Lottery work was starting to get better, we got an assignment from A-B for Michelob Amber Bock, so it's kind of starting to happen the way I expected it would."

"I've always said I don't want to be the best commercial of the week. I want my advertising to live up to the best advertising of all time. "

David Droga, worldwide executive creative director, Publicis

Most noted for Ridiculous level of accomplishment for his age; yogi-like focus; quad-continental success. Droga had famously made the treacherous leap from Asia to Saatchi London, turning that shop into a Grand Prix winning powerhouse with work for Club 18-30 and NSPCC before coming to Publicis and New York.

What he stepped into An agency flying well below the creative radar, a less than inspiring New York office, an alien culture.

Biggest Challenge Making the New York office of Publicis not only relevant, but a creative player. And, as important as New York is for every network, for Publicis, Paris also had to be a creative flagship.

Word on the street now If you asked a few months ago, the forecast would have been bleak - the frustration of trying to change the machine and gain some momentum was apparently taking its toll, causing some speculation about whether Droga would stick it out. Now, he seems energized and results are starting to show across the network. There are likely to be further changes in New York.

Creative rep of agency at arrival With the exception of a few bright spots - Seattle and San Fran - no rep to speak of. According to a major creative awards tally in 2002, Publicis ranked number 15 (of 18 networks).

Creative rep now Since his arrival, Droga has undertaken a big ticket creative hiring spree and established a blockbuster creative board. The result: the beginnings of a creative contender.

Accounts Won French drug giant Sanofi and P&G's new female sex drive booster Intrinsa. Global Cadbury assignments, Coca-Cola Minute Maid and Allied Domecq. Perhaps more meaningfully to Droga, the new creative contingent won TBS in what he describes as a perfect pitch.

Accounts Lost Office Max

Creative Breakthroughs Look for funny new work for Amstel and Heineken in New York and, currently, a truly breakthrough effort for HP in London (see Pg.18) that demonstrates an agency thinking in new creative directions beyond TV spots.

Creative Busts None, arguably. Though the first Heineken work was not the brand's best.

Mitigating Factors With Publicis particularly near and dear to the French heart of holding company honcho Monsieur Levy, Droga went in with big support and, in principal, free rein to pursue meaningful change.

Newcomers Too many significant hires to list here. A veritable who's who of US and global creatives, starting in New York with Howard Marshall and Duncan Wilmott (the creatives behind NSPCC at Saatchi London), and, recently, Grand Prix winners Mike Sutherland and Antony Nelson from Fallon, London. Ex Saatchi hitters Nick Studzinski and Gavin Kellett were added in London, and AMV.BBDO's Nick Worthington (winner of 10 Cannes Lions) in New Zealand. Droga recruited Ted Royer as a Global Creative - acting as ECD in Sydney and troubleshooter around the world. In Paris four of France's top teams (including Eric Helias and Jorge Carreno, 2003 Grand Prix winners from TBWA), joined new agency chief Christophe Lambert and another (huge) senior hire is pending.

What he said then "With me, you're not buying a person who is just going to write an ad and weave some magic. You're buying someone who will influence culture, instigate change, get better things from existing people or, in worst cases, change people. "

What he says now "It's been both better and harder than I thought. The first 12 months had to be about putting on muscle. There is no way we can compete at the highest level creatively if we don't have that muscle, the people, to do it. It's ridiculous to just say, 'we're going to make the work better.' There have to be significant changes, and not just at the creative director level. You have to build and infrastructure around them, to try and build a community, really. People are saying why so much so quickly but if we're not dramatic in the first year, people lose interest, or the good will can taper off. The foundation has been laid. You now have the very first work now starting to come out and I'm feeling optimistic about it - it's on the right track."

Michael Patti, Chairman/CEO/ Global Creative Director, Y&R/

New York

Known for A celebrity-studded rolodex and the big budget BBDO spectacular; a highly decorated hands-on guy with a "demanding" rep.

What he stepped into: An agency with a number of blue chip clients comparable to his former shop, but a reputation for being so account-driven it crippled the creative. Former Worldwide Chairman/CEO Mike Dolan hired Patti to up the creative ante, but departed two months into his tenure, leaving Patti to work with newly appointed former Kraft division president Ann Fudge.

The challenge To make the New York headquarters agency a more consistent home run hitter and eventually, an example for the rest of the shops around the globe

Accounts Won Burger King; Chevron-Texaco Orbitz(Chicago); Jacuzzi(SF);Miller/Lite and brand ID; Sunkist (to Y&R's Brand Buzz)

Accounts Lost Burger King;NASCAR (Chicago)

Notable Hires: from BBDO Colin Glaum; Johnny Tan and Chien Hwang (ACDs); Brian McDermott (CD); Tommy Henvey (GCD)

Departures Jim Ferguson, former President/CCO/NY

Word on street Insiders say it's not exactly a love-in between Patti and Fudge. Longtime creative players note it's the first time in years the agency felt like it had a real creative department-to which Patti brought renewed vigor and heightened morale.

Creative Breakthroughs None so far, although Patti says the agency's made considerable progress on Prego, Diet Dr. Pepper, and broke new AT&T with an unusual artistic bent. Keep an eye out on Sony. "It's got a great brand name like a Pepsi or Nike, and it needs the work to live up to it."

Creative Busts Striking out with Burger King. "The Fire is Ready" didn't resonate culturally; Sony's Plato appears to have lost his mojo, resorting to heavy-handeded S&M antics. Also-where are the blockbusters?

Mitigating Factors "The fire wasn't ready," Patti says of the Burger King account. "We had three weeks to do a campaign and present it to 2000 franchisees, who gave it a standing ovation. But I don't think it ever got a chance to get off the ground. I wish the best for them, but I'm not sure it's an advertising problem as much as an operational problem that they've got to get fixed, quickly." On the upside, this shows Patti has the cojones to take on a notoriously fickle client.

What he said then "I don't mind if you say I don't suffer fools. I don't want to come off as abrasive, but I'd kill to sell a great commercial."

What he says now "When I arrived, in all honesty, I think the creative department was afraid. They might have heard the stories that I was hot-tempered, but I'm really not. I like to work hard and defend work and I'm very passionate about it and I think people have seen that and responded. I had seen the reel and it seemed very lackluster- it seemed whoever was making decisions at the time, without naming names, was not paying attention to each individual spot. I was worried I was going to find a disaster, but what I found here was an entire layer of undiscovered talents, who just really wanted the chance to do terrific work and have it recognized."

On Ann Fudge "Ann has very good instincts when it comes to what works for her and what doesn't work for her but she gives me a lot of support in a way I need to take any account into a territory that is fresh for our clients, which is good."

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