PERSPECTIVE: Worldwide creative role gets credibility as clients go global

Anyone who has regular contact with journalists will be aware that,

as a breed, we are not natural respecters of rank. Suits with the word

global or worldwide in their job titles don't necessarily cut it with

us, creatives even less so. But the appointment of Lee Garfinkel to the

worldwide creative leader position at D'Arcy got me thinking. Has

something changed if a respected creative is prepared to take on that

job? Here, after all, is someone who has had people queuing up to back

him in a start-up since he left Lowe Lintas New York last January.



Is it as simple as the fact that D'Arcy's new network leaders have

created the post, having realised it has been dominated for too long by

the sort of clients that neither allow, encourage nor demand their

agencies to do better work? Partly. Have they taken a look at the

networks that regularly come up with better creative work and more

awards and identified a strong global creative figure as the closest

thing to a true common denominator?



Possibly. Does Garfinkel feel he wants to stick it to Lowe Lintas by

taking on a bigger challenge after abruptly leaving his post there?

Almost certainly.



There is another reason. Think about the new ad climate. Better still,

think about it without worries about whether you're going to have a job

next week as your main thought. You're thinking about global alignments,

decisions made in one market that cover every market, more power in the

hands of fewer individuals. Now think how this might empower global

creative heads of agencies. Isn't it true that global clients briefing

projects on a multinational basis means that the global creative

director can be more hands-on as those projects are realised?



There is another thing that might explain why Garfinkel took the

job.



But it's vague, unscientific and I can guarantee the mere mention of the

term in this column will get some beancounterly minded readers cursing

me for naivety.



It's about the chance to change a culture. Consider the cycle of agency

life: people come and go at the best creative agencies all the time,

clients come and go even faster, premises change too. What stays is the

culture.



Defining that is the duty of every network's chief executive working in

partnership with someone driving the creative product.



Politics, lack of commitment to great work, disrespect between

departments, settling for the first good idea, not enough money, too

much money, too many meetings, too little time. These are the negative

forces that can hold an agency culture back.



They are perhaps easier to list than the forces that, in my experience,

are common to all the best agency cultures. Talent, strong desire from

all, strong relationships with clients, genuine support of top

management, financial resources, ability to lose money upholding

principles, hard work, genuine belief in the power of great creative,

tolerance for risk-taking.



Here's to D'Arcy's new boy obliterating some of the first list with the

last.



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