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,
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
First, Dunn is to be joint creative director, with a copywriting
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
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.
Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4
Stefano Hatfield is away.