Goodby’s Eric Vervroegen charged with boosting Publicis global creative

Creativity is king at the moment and Publicis Worldwide, the world’s number three agency network, has been a bit short of it recently.

So the Publicis Groupe-owned giant has lured Belgian Eric Vervroegen from Omnicom’s Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco to be its new international creative director.

Before joining Goodby as a creative director Vervroegen was president and creative director of TBWA Paris where he garnered an impressive clutch of gongs including 70 or so Cannes Lions. Until now he has always claimed that the life of an international creative director, endless flights and overheated hotels, wasn’t for him, saying he was a “sergeant not a general.”

But now Publicis has created a new international creative board chaired by managing director Arthur Sadoun which also includes Oliver Altmann (in effect Vervroegen’s predecessor as international creative chief), Craig Davis, now at Publicis Mojo in Australia but before that worldwide CD at JWT and Kevin Roddy, who recently left BBH in New York for Publicis Groupe-owned Hal Riney in Sam Francisco.

BBH is also part-owned by Publicis Groupe of course which rather suggests that the Publicis Worldwide management have a higher opinion of Roddy than BBH management did.

But this is a pretty heavyweight panel and one which will test Vervroegen’s nascent skills at generalship.

Why is Publicis bothering? Big global accounts are increasingly going to the best creative performers with more and more clients looking for greater cut-through and more confident, in the digital age, that smaller agencies in terms of geographical reach can produce it.

Wieden+Kennedy is the current darling of the worldwide marketing community despite having only a handful of offices and other agencies like Mother, with offices in just London, New York and Buenos Aires, are also winning their fair share.

Big global networks like Publicis Worldwide and Interpublic-owned McCann Erickson used to be the inevitable destinations of big global accounts just because they were everywhere. In the case of Publicis the company’s growth was fuelled by French clients like Renault and L’Oreal and also Nestle, based just over the border in Switzerland.

These longstanding Publicis clients are still there but network boss Jean-Yves Naouri has obviously decided that the agency needs to up its creative game and Sergeant Vervroegen is the man to do it.

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