PERSPECTIVE: Mr Simons knows Mr Unpopular could be Mr Right for O&M job

It doesn’t pay to stick your head above the parapet in this frighteningly conservative business, does it? Even those who rock the boat usually do so within defined parameters. But dare to step outside those parameters, and my, the insults fly. Hence the opprobium being heaped on the head of the Ogilvy Group chairman, Paul Simons, following his decision to appoint Steve Dunn as creative director (see Newsmaker, p20).

It doesn’t pay to stick your head above the parapet in this

frighteningly conservative business, does it? Even those who rock the

boat usually do so within defined parameters. But dare to step outside

those parameters, and my, the insults fly. Hence the opprobium being

heaped on the head of the Ogilvy Group chairman, Paul Simons, following

his decision to appoint Steve Dunn as creative director (see Newsmaker,

p20).



Who is Mr Universally Unpopular? He’s the 39-year-old art director whose

career spans stints at Boase Massimi Pollitt, Leagas Delaney, Wieden &

Kennedy and Lowe Howard-Spink. He has an outstanding print-biased

portfolio comprising work for Harrods, The Guardian, Nike, Punch,

Porsche and Stella Artois. He appears to be wholly untroubled by the

Campaign profile game.



He’s the sort of creative director who likes to get his hands dirty. He

has won numerous awards but claims to have kept none of them. He worked

alongside Tim Delaney for 11 years and survived.



On the face of it, the appointment constitutes an extraordinary

volte-face from the O&M tradition of ’gentlemen with brains’,

personified by the outgoing creative director, Patrick Collister. If the

stories are true, Dunn’s style of creative management consists of

rousing speeches such as ’Get out of my office, turn right, go back into

your own office and do some f-ing ads’. Inflammatory, selfish,

compulsive - these are just some of the considered verdicts delivered on

Dunn by his peers.



So one view suggests his hiring is a piece of supreme miscasting, a

headline-grabbing solution to a lengthy search for a creative director

of an account-shorn agency.



Indeed, there is some evidence that such deliberate miscasting leads

inevitably to stories of courage dissipated, idealism crushed and power

usurped. Jeremy Clarke’s move from creative group head at Saatchis to

creative director at McCann-Erickson ended in rancour and writs. Malcolm

Gluck was forced to resign from Lintas London after his famous attempt

to produce Doyle Dane Bernbach-style ads within the stodgy culture of

the Unilever house agency.



But there is another view that points to precisely the opposite

conclusion.



First, Dunn is to be joint creative director, with a copywriting

partner.



Search me for names (anyone that saintly will surely want the whole job

themselves) but there will be someone to balance him out and be an

anchor.



Second, Simons has been hired deliberately as an agent of change, so it

comes as no surprise that his creative director is to be cast in the

same mould. Reliable sources at O&M report that since Simons’ arrival

the whole place has taken on the air of a military headquarters on the

eve of a great and urgently necessary operation. The only safe bet is

that Dunn’s appointment will reinforce that air.





caroline.marshall@haynet.com



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4



Stefano Hatfield is away.



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