TBWA UK, currently in the process of trying to reinvent itself after major account losses (most notably Muller) and yet more management changes, seems determined not to have a CEO.
One might welcome this if the agency was reverting to the old practice of having a managing director at the top (as Wieden+Kennedy does with Neil Christie) but, no, we have a fine collection of titles.
The former AMV/BBDO creative director Peter Souter was parachuted in just over a week ago as chairman and ECD (that’s executive creative director) while this week Lindsey Evans (left), a Brit who’s spent most of her time in Australia but who has also had stints at TBWA agencies in the US, has joined as president. So who’s the boss, Souter or Evans?
TBWA will doubtless says it’s a partnership of all the talents so it doesn’t need a CEO anyway. But at some point tough decisions will be made and it helps if the buck stops with one person.
The waters have already been muddied a bit by Souter cheerfully telling Ad Age that new creative signing Walter Campbell, of Guinness ‘surfer’ fame, is being paid more than he is and can do more or less what he likes. Quite what Brazilian-born creative director Andre Laurentino makes of all this is unclear. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when (if?) Campbell presents his first ad to him and he doesn’t like it.
It would also be interesting to know if Evans, whose last job was at client Pacific Brands in Australia, was always slated for this role. Or did someone upstairs at TBWA panic a bit when it all began to look rather free range?
Evans says: “I’m both humbled and exhilarated by the challenge of taking TBWA\London to its next level, and to do so with a creative legend like Peter. It’s a perfect storm.” Perfect storms aren’t actually much fun but I suppose you can see what she means.
TBWA\Europe president (presumably the boss then) Perry Valkenburg says “We simply got lucky with Lindsey Evans. She is British but worked most of her career in the USA and Australia.
“Strong strategic skills, digital native (eh?) and she worked at both sides of the table for the best agencies and world-class brands. Above all she knows our culture and will be at home from day one.
“The amazing new hires of Peter Souter are, in combination with the young talent that scored so many wins recently (perhaps Perry can enlighten us as to what they are) in my opinion the best team in town.”
This is gibberish isn’t it? What’s got into adfolk when they make public statements? It’s as though the dear old English language is no longer capable of containing their (possibly manufactured) enthusiasm.
Anyway it looks as though Evans is the boss, Souter the conductor of this possibly unruly creative orchestra and the PR face.