Jonathan Burley departs CHI in latest round of London’s creative musical chairs

imagesAt this rate there won’t be anyone left. CHI&Partners CCO Jonathan Burley (left) is leaving the agency after six years. One of a number of well-known faces in London’s adland to depart the scene or move on recently.

Burley has a terrific pedigree, having been ECD at Leo Burnett and before that a creative director at Howell Henry. His first few years at CHI were a success but the agency has failed to sparkle recently, losing a string of pitches last year, strangely for what was once seen a new business machine. The work has failed to match that of its big agency rivals, most particularly adam&eveDDB, AMV BBDO and Grey.

Johnny Hornby, founder of CHI and boss of The&Partnership, the newish WPP-backed network that sits above CHI, says: “Jonathan and I agreed some time ago that having enjoyed a wonderful six years together, where Jon has built a great department and produced some really outstanding work for our clients, that it was a good time for him and for us to take on a fresh challenge.

“Not surprisingly a little while later Jonathan now has a lots of offers from elsewhere, both in London and abroad, and hasn’t yet chosen his next move.”

Burley told Campaign: “It’s always a difficult decision to leave an agency you’ve been a part of for six years, and I wish I could say more at this time about where I’m going next, but I’m sure CHI will continue to go from strength to strength.”

It will be interesting to see who replaces Burley and, indeed, where he lands. London has a chronic shortage of capable creative directors thanks to short-sighted agencies eliminating middleweights (who might have become heavyweights) and replacing them with digital designers who might be good at their trade but haven’t a clue about how to produce an adam&eve-style big TV campaign, still the work that gets agencies noticed and makes them rich and famous. Some of them, anyway.

The fabled Hornby charm will no doubt be switched to full voltage as he endeavours to persuade one of this diminishing pool that The&Partnership/CHI is going places.

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