Lee Clow, the creative figurehead of TBWA Worldwide, is one of
advertising’s living legends. He’s the assured hand behind some of the
most memorable commercials ever made, including Apple’s ’1984’ spot,
which launched the Macintosh computer.
By awarding him the title of chairman and chief creative officer of TBWA
Worldwide, John Wren, the president and chief executive of the Omnicom
group, is exalting Clow beyond his already mythic status.
Neither of the other two Omnicom networks, BBDO and DDB, has such a
But TBWA is the one which needs to establish a coherent identity as it
attempts to pull together a still disparate series of acquisitions
around the world.
Wren has decided that the way forward for TBWA is to promote a
consistent creative vision. He says: ’Creativity can’t be added to a
network, it has to be in the DNA. We are affirming TBWA’s commitment to
creativity and recognising that creativity is at the centre of
successful business practices.’
A TBWA insider describes Clow’s new position as a ’ceremonial role’,
adding: ’Clow symbolises and clarifies the network. TBWA is underscoring
the fact that the core value of the network is creativity.’
Last year at the Cannes advertising festival, TBWA won more lions than
any of its competitors, and Omnicom is keen to harness that triumph and
lodge it into the industry’s perception of TBWA.
The new chairman still basks in the glory of ’1984’, and is also
well-known for his work on Nissan’s ’enjoy the ride’ and Apple’s ’think
different’ campaign. He has won more than his fair share of gold lions
at Cannes and is a member of the OneClub Hall of Fame.
Now that TBWA Chiat/Day has been integrated into the TBWA fold, Clow is
ready to take on a broader mantle - he is already credited with
recruiting David Page from Ogilvy & Mather as the new creative director
of TBWA’s New York office.
Clow will work closely with Michael Greenlees, the president and chief
executive of TBWA Worldwide, and try to build TBWA into a powerful
brand. Both men will report directly to Wren. By all accounts, the first
meeting of the new worldwide board last week was handled smoothly by a
compelling Clow-Greenlees double act.
Now that TBWA’s creative credentials have been established, what will
Omnicom do with them? Wren is keeping a close eye on the development of
TBWA. He sees the network as having a particularly strong integrated
offering: ’It has a depth of services beyond advertising and the
generation of the idea in a media-neutral sense is an empowering
TBWA’s most imminent challenge is to draw in more multinational
Wren admits: ’There is an opportunity to increase the roster of
network-serviced clients. Because of the way TBWA came together, it has
strong local companies, but doesn’t have a lot of network business.’