As Helayne Spivak settles into JWT, Jim Davies looks at international
As advertising networks continue to develop global strategies for
multinational brands, a relatively new breed of international super-
creative has emerged - the worldwide creative director.
New York-based Helayne Spivak is no stranger to the role; until last
week she was worldwide creative director of Ammirati Puris Lintas. This
week, having been poached by J. Walter Thompson, she becomes chief
creative officer North America and joint worldwide creative officer. She
also takes up a position on JWT’s worldwide board.
As impressive as the job title may sound, some industry watchers remain
sceptical about its true value. There’s just a slight whiff of sinecure
about it: a position created to keep a senior creative happy, but
perhaps slightly out of harm’s way. ‘Only a few people are doing that
job for real,’ admits Donald Gunn, director of creative resources
worldwide at Leo Burnett.
However, he hastens to add, he is a long-time admirer of Spivak and
believes she will be more than equal to the challenge. ‘She is
wonderfully talented,’ Gunn says. Spivak herself admits there’s a
certain ‘caricature to the role; you jet off somewhere, have a dinner on
the agency and head off’.
Gunn, hardly surprisingly, is quick to sing the praises of Michael
Conrad, Burnetts’ own worldwide creative director. ‘Michael spends an
enormous amount of time familiarising himself with the work coming out
of all our agencies,’ he says. ‘He always has a point of view, which
people can buy into or reject.’
Spivak also acknowledges this need to know the ins and outs of the
network’s output. ‘You can’t just go in there and criticise,’ she says.
‘You have to respect where they’re coming from. It’s important that
someone has an overview of the agencies’ work and can bring some co-
ordination to it.’
Allen Thomas, based at JWT in London, will continue his role as co-
worldwide creative director, with responsibility for Europe and the Far