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?
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
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
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