Wieden + Kennedy rattles WPP’s cage by poaching Y&R New York top creative duo

Wieden + Kennedy is continuing to make creative waves, poaching Y&R New York’s joint chief creative officers Scott Vitrone and Ian Reichenthal to be the new executive creative directors of its own troubled New York office.

W+K showed the door to previous top creative duo Kevin Proudfoot and Jerome Austria a month ago and boss Dan Wieden is clearly determined to raise his New York office to the stellar standards of the agency’s Portland HQ.

Last week W+K Amsterdam went on a hiring spree, hiring seven creatives including former Bartle Bogle Hegarty creative director Rosie Bardales. The agency recently won the global Levi’s account and is basking in the glory of being voted Ad Age’s US agency of the year and the plaudits for its Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl ad.

Vitrone and Reichenthal’s departure could hardly come at a worse moment for Y&R which has just seen the departure of US CEO Hamish McLennan who has been replaced by Wunderman boss David Sable.

Y&R insists McLennan is leaving because he wants to return to his home country of Australia. Indeed, in a rather unusual step, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell told Ad age this personally. But the agency and its owner must be concerned at the brain drain from the network’s flagship office.

As for Vitrone and Reichenthal they learned their trade at W+K so it’s hardly surprising that they want to return. But there’s a bit more to it than that. This is what W+K founder Dan Wieden told Creativity: “We’ve been after these two geniuses for nearly a month. Their talent is unquestionable, as is their leadership ability and knack to make the best creatives even better. All they need is a bit of freedom to do their thing. We’ve got plenty of that.”

Is the wily old fox putting down a marker here? Come to us, we’ve now got the big accounts you want to work on with none of those infuriating restrictions that you get at agencies owned by WPP and the other big marcoms groups.

We’re remarked here before on the inflationary battle for creative talent that is marking an industry on the way out of recession. There’s another issue too though; as big clients become more confident that smaller agencies can give them all the facilities they need allied to the best creative talent, it’s going to get harder and harder for the big networks to monopolise the global marketing giants on whom they depend.

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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.