DDB names heirs to Ken Kaess

Chuck Brymer takes the reins as chief executive and president, while Bob Scarpelli becomes chairman.

The Omnicom chief, John Wren, has promoted Chuck Brymer, the Interbrand group chairman and group chief executive, to president and chief executive of DDB Worldwide, following the death of Ken Kaess last week.

The group has also broadened the responsibilities of its chief creative officer, Bob Scarpelli, to include the role of chairman of DDB Worldwide.

He will replace Keith Reinhard, who is stepping aside to become chairman emeritus.

"One of Ken's legacies as a chief executive is the management team, including the executive committee, he assembled at DDB," Wren explained. "The appointment of Chuck will carry on that collaborative spirit."

Brymer said: "Under Ken's leadership, DDB has expanded into customer relationship management, retail activation and interactive. It is known for its creativity and ability to produce powerful ideas and transform them into creative business solutions."

The gap left by Brymer at the design agency Interbrand will be filled by Jez Frampton, the chief executive of Interbrand London.

Scarpelli said: "I am honoured to succeed Keith, one of the true visionaries in the business, as chairman. And I look forward to working with Chuck to unleash the potential of DDB and its people."

Reinhard will keep an office at DDB. "DDB has been a passion of mine," he said. "Helping it grow into a creative powerhouse was the most satisfying accomplishment of my career. Watching the network flourish under Ken's leadership was enormously gratifying and I have no doubt the company will soar to even greater heights under the guidance of Bob and Chuck."

Scarpelli is based at DDB's offices in Chicago. Last year he was promoted to the position of worldwide creative chief of DDB (Campaign, 18 March 2005). He retained his role as chairman of the agency's Chicago office.

Brymer joined Interbrand in 1985 from BBDO New York. Under his leadership, it has expanded to more than 30 offices, serving clients such as British Airways and AT&T in 80 countries.


Sometimes, when you least expect it, people surprise you.

Last week, his family buried Ken Kaess. They lost a father, a brother, a son. All of us at DDB lost our leader and our friend. Ken, our president and chief executive, lost his battle with cancer at 51. As Keith Reinhard put it in his eloquent eulogy, Ken was at the "top of his game", leading DDB into a new era of innovation and creativity. He had the "charisma, content and character" of a true leader.

Many of us were surprised that we lost Ken so suddenly and so young. But, as his partner and friend, I'd have to say that what surprised me most was Ken. In life, he always surprised people with his warmth, his quick smile, his ability to put people at ease. He didn't see himself as the "CEO of DDB" in capital letters. He was Ken, a good guy who was always eager to deflect credit from himself.

Like all of us, Ken could be insecure at times. We would tease him that he was the world's biggest hypochondriac. So when he was face to face with the toughest battle in life, we wondered how he would handle it.

Well, he handled it with a degree of courage and clarity I will never forget. And of all the things I learned from Ken, that will be my most lasting memory.

He was someone to admire in life. He was a true inspiration in death.

He considered himself lucky that he had the time to put his life in order before he left. "What about someone who is killed in a car crash?" he asked. "I'm lucky enough to be able to pick out the music and the readings for my own funeral. How many people get to do that?"

When he realised his time with us was very limited, he said: "I figure there are two ways I can go: one, feel sorry about what I'll miss; my son's and daughter's graduations and weddings. Or I can choose to enjoy the time with my family and friends and leave with those memories. I choose the second way." He chose it because he knew it would be best for his children.

That was Ken. Next week, according to his wishes, we're going to have an "Irish wake" for him. He told us he didn't want a "pity party". So we are going to gladly forgo the pity and have the party, just the way he'd like it.