CLOSE-UP PERSPECTIVE: Wheldon quits his BBDO post but the role was a non-job

Having disposed of how many times you have to visit the Ivy before earning a table in less than six weeks, and whether Charlotte Street will ever be great again, a recent conversation over lunch with an eminent agency person turned with a defiant lack of logic to David Wheldon. How, he enquired, was David doing? Although I’ve met Wheldon several times since he became the president of BBDO Europe in March, I had to pause for thought. ’I don’t know,’ I said eventually. Wheldon’s an impressive operator and it seemed unfair to gossip about the obvious difficulties faced by the former worldwide director of advertising for Coca-Cola since he joined BBDO.

Having disposed of how many times you have to visit the Ivy before

earning a table in less than six weeks, and whether Charlotte Street

will ever be great again, a recent conversation over lunch with an

eminent agency person turned with a defiant lack of logic to David

Wheldon. How, he enquired, was David doing? Although I’ve met Wheldon

several times since he became the president of BBDO Europe in March, I

had to pause for thought. ’I don’t know,’ I said eventually. Wheldon’s

an impressive operator and it seemed unfair to gossip about the obvious

difficulties faced by the former worldwide director of advertising for

Coca-Cola since he joined BBDO.



Then, last Friday, came the terse fax from BBDO New York. Wheldon

’resigns’ from BBDO ( it should have read ’is invited to resign’). His

job will be filled by Jean-Michel Goudard, president of BBDO Worldwide,

who assumes the additional title of chairman of BBDO Europe.



There is one obvious conclusion: president of BBDO Europe is a non-job

with zero influence. This is because BBDO has a number of eminent, but

mostly minority-owned, creative agencies in its portfolio - including

Tiempo in Spain, Team in Germany, FHV in Holland and Abbott Mead Vickers

in London. Like its sister Omnicom networks, it has cultivated an

empowered, decentralised structure with agencies happy to report into

New York on most issues but happier to be left alone to work their

entrepreneurial magic. Indeed, the fact that 58-year-old Goudard is to

be chairman of Europe suggests a realisation that, if anyone is to

influence such agencies, it has to be someone who wields ultimate

power.



Some will suggest Wheldon used the BBDO job as his ticket back to London

agency life. For after he skilfully implemented Coca-Cola’s dramatic

overhaul of its agency roster, he also fell rapidly out of love with

Sergio Zyman, Coca-Cola’s then chief marketing officer.



There are several powerful desks that Wheldon’s CV could now cross.

First, that of Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi’s worldwide chief

executive.



Having sidelined Alan Bishop into a new-business role, Roberts needs a

chairman for Charlotte Street and Wheldon already has a reputation

there; he joined as a trainee in 1983 and left five years later as a

group account director.



Second, that of Shelly Lazarus, the worldwide chairman and chief

executive of Ogilvy & Mather, who wants a chairman for O&M London. Mike

Walsh currently holds the title, but he also runs Europe, the Middle

East and Africa. I’ll bet that such a vast portfolio of agencies carries

with it a high risk of the pernicious advertising management disease

known as Marmite-itis. (That’s spreading yourself too thinly, not a

yeast infection.) Could Canary Wharf therefore be Wheldon’s next home?



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £45 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off Campaign's relaunch than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).