Matias Palm-Jensen
Matias Palm-Jensen
A view from Claire Beale

Claire Beale: One out, one in. But it's good for our creativity

As one door closes, in walks a Swede through another. I will be sad to see Graham Fink quit Soho for Shanghai, but I'm loving the invasion of foreign creative talent, the latest being the fabulous Matias Palm-Jensen.

First, Fink. I love Graham Fink. Not enough advertising creatives inspire you to see the world afresh, to take a different, maybe perverse, perspective. Graham Fink does that. It hasn't meant he's always created the very best advertising, though British Airways' "face" is right up there and, in the past year or two, he's managed a gentle creative renaissance at M&C Saatchi. But he's always interesting, always passionate, always energetically hungry for what's new and different and surprising. The ad industry needs more of all of that.

Quite what the Chinese are going to make of him, I don't know. This is, after all, the man who summoned a young creative grad to the M&C offices at 10.30pm one night, told them to wait for an hour in the deserted lobby before ordering them into a waiting car. The confused creative was then taken to the Millennium Bridge, where they found a man dressed all in black, complete with a black face mask and a boa constrictor.

The Man in Black (Fink himself, as you will have guessed) thrust the snake at the poor grad and ran off. This is creative training Fink style. Brilliant. But not very Asian. Which is exactly why Ogilvy & Mather has chosen Fink to lead creativity across China. They've enough good local creatives at the Asian coalface; put some foreign grit in the mix and interesting things should start to happen.

Talking of which: Matias Palm-Jensen. Now I know I shouldn't be so parochial about it; Palm-Jensen's got a European role, and to many of the markets he'll influence at McCann, his provenance will matter little. But he's going to be based in London, and to our largely incestuous advertising community he's an outsider who rides in on a wave of change that's diluting the British creative DNA. That's exciting.

Palm-Jensen's Farfar set the digital benchmark for some of the world's biggest brands before butting up against holding company politics and policies after selling to Aegis and becoming part of Isobar. Since walking out in frustration just over a year ago, Palm-Jensen has been energetically courted by the big agency groups. His decision to join McCann, his decision to move to London - both are surprising. Both, though, say some really interesting things - about the new spirit at McCann, about the new opportunities foreign creatives are now seeing in London.

As M&C Saatchi now joins the ranks of top agencies looking for new creative leadership (alongside DLKW Lowe, McCann itself, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, AKQA and the soon-to-launch BETC London) it will no doubt be casting its net around the world.