Y&R plugs a big creative gap in New York, ditto Dentsu in London – but where are the leaders?

The aforementioned gap in New York was created by Wieden+Kennedy poaching joint Young & Rubicam CCOs Scott Vitrone and Ian Reichenthal to revive its New York operation.

Filling it is highly-regarded Jim Elliott from Goodby Silverstein in San Francisco who worked on Haagen Daz and General Motors. Elliott will have his work cut out as Y&R has recently lost a number of accounts, the last one being Office Depot, and also its CEO Hamish McLennan.

In London Japanese mega-agency Dentsu, which seems to be having a real go at becoming a worldwide force after abandoning its previous strategy of alliances with the likes of Publicis Groupe, has hired W+K duo Paul Jordan and Angus Macadam (pictured) as new ECDs, replacing Andy Lockley who’s gone off to Grey.

The common factor in all this is W+K, which is either hiring (as it’s being doing furiously in Amsterdam) or seeing its second rank talent (who may, indeed, prove to be first rank) go elsewhere.

There are three interesting aspects to all this.

One is that the transfer market in creatives has gone into overdrive as the agency business recovers (and it finds that the talent pool is small).

Two is the renewed ambition of Dentsu which seem to have realised finally that you succeed on the world stage by being good at ads not diplomacy.

Its successful purchase of US agency mcgarrybowen may have given it a bit more confidence after some real disasters, most notably buying Collett Dickenson Pearce in London years after the talent and the business had departed.

The third, and most important, is the value of all these peripatetic creatives. Creatives tend to be good if they’re in the right environment, next to useless if they’re not.

Wieden+Kennedy seems to be an environment in which they thrive, some of the bigger marcoms company agencies are more difficult.

And surely it comes down to leadership. W+K is run by veteran creative and founder Dan Wieden who, despite his avuncular appearance, is no pussycat when it comes to fighting his corner. Other agencies who’ve worked with him say he can be quite terrifying.

But at least there you know the boss is on your side, if you’re any good.

None of the big marcoms companies are run by creative people and very few of their bigger local offices are either. Their business is all about servicing their huge global clients and selling them other services if they can.

Even the most talented and committed creative is going to struggle to make a meaningful impact in such an environment. They’re even less likely to become creative leaders in the Wieden mould and therefore attract the best people.

Well let’s hope the new guys in their new agencies make an impact. But it might not be their fault if they don’t.

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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.