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What will the new Swedish chef Matias Palm-Jensen do to McCann Erickson?

We’re not suggesting that Farfar founder Matias Palm-Jensen is a Muppet of course but McCann Erickson’s new chief innovation officer for Europe is surely likely to make as many waves as Jim Henson’s famous creation who baffled Kermit & Co.

Here’s one of his works for Diesel.

McCann? Surely some mistake?

Palm-Jensen, who has won numerous gongs at Cannes in his time, is the second stage of McCann Worldgroup boss Nick Brien’s revolution at the Interpublic-owned biggest agency network, the first being the hire of Mother New York founder Linus Karlsson (another Swede) as chairman and chief creative officer in both London and New York.

The reason for the questions is not so much the effect Karlsson and Palm-Jensen will have on McCann’s clients (big clients these days are in brave mode, recognising that the convergence of broadcast and online means that they have to invest in sometimes wacky creative) but on the organisation itself.

Palm-Jensen’s old agency Farfar had a turbulent time, selling out to media buyer Aegis Group’s Isobar digital agency before it was abruptly closed after Palm-Jensen left in March 2010. Strangely it was reported as being on the recent pitch list for a place on the VW roster, won by WPP’s Taxi. So maybe Aegis/Isobar is resurrecting it.

McCann was built on the twin pillars of Coca-Cola and Exxon (Esso originally). The agency opened offices around the world in the wake of its two imperial clients and then became the core of Marion Harper’s Interpublic holding company, formed in the 1960s.

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Exxon is no longer a major advertiser but Coke of course is. But McCann has lost its iron grip on the account as Coke has launched more brands and now has to share duties with around 30 other agencies worldwide.

The company has embraced a more creative approach to its advertising and will certainly have taken note of the arrivals of Karlsson and Palm-Jensen, as of course will McCann’s other big clients like Black & Decker and Mastercard.

But it’s hard to think of another big agency makeover of the pace and scale of this one.

Mad Men agency Sterling Cooper (the one before the breakaway) is said to have been based on McCann. Think of the trouble creative director Don Draper had persuading his more conservative colleagues to buy his ideas.

Good luck lads.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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