Linus Karlsson raids W+K to find his creative leaders for McCann London

McCann Erickson London chairman and CCO Linus Karlsson (same job in New York) has advanced his hoped-for creative revolution at the Interpublic-owned network by hiring Rob Doubal and Lolly Thomson from Wieden+Kennedy London as executive creative directors (pictured by Campaign, with beards).

AT W+K the two were creative directors working on Nestea and the huge but now departed Nokia account so W+K London boss Neil Christie probably won’t be too upset. Before W+K the two worked at Mother.

Karlsson says: “Rob and Lolly are not only great and inspiring creative leaders but also two of the most imaginative, surprising and thoughtful people I know.”

So can Doubal and Thomson live up to their billing? Being the creative boss (or bosses) of McCann London is a notoriously difficult task, arguably the agency hasn’t had a really successful one since Barry Day back in the 1970s. The bewhiskered Day (left) was a great front man alongside account man MD Nigel Grandfield and thinker Ann Burdus as the agency briefly challenged JWT for top spot in London with its repertoire of Coke, Martini, Esso and Tesco.

Since then it’s mostly been downhill although the late and outrageously gay (for the times) Don White garnered a lot of publicity in the 1980s, mostly for himself.

But Karlsson and his boss, McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien (a Brit), are clearly determined to turn things round at the London outpost of what is still the world’s biggest agency network. How much slack he cuts for them will be crucial to Doubal and Thomson’s chances of succeeding.

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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.