As soon as Charlie Rudd quit Ogilvy UK as part of the, erm, unpleasantness last summer, it seemed inevitable that he would end up working for his old boss Annette King. And Leo Burnett seemed the most likely berth. And so it has come to pass.
Taking a job previously occupied by Gareth Collins, from the quotes Rudd provided it’s pretty clear what his priority is: the work. This word (or variants thereof) is mentioned nine times in the four sentences on his priorities for the job. And three of those are about working with King again – the rest about supporting the creative output. How refreshing to cut to the chase and talk about the one thing that most people in the industry actually joined to do.
What a contrast to Collins, who was never particularly vocal about his objectives – or much else, for that matter – in his near 18 months running Leo Burnett or in the preceding three years running Fallon. This quiet man of advertising is taking his talents to Mcgarrybowen – a shop that’s equally soporific, perhaps, and that has seen Rick Hirst and Jason Gonsalves pass quietly through its doors as chief executives without it ever really seeming to change much.
For his part, Collins says that Mcgarrybowen is "a fantastic agency, with a great culture, brilliant people and clients". I can’t help feeling that the shop needs supercharging to prove all of those things and that the "genuinely defining campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands" of which he also mentions are too few and far between.
With King having mustered Emma de la Fosse as chief creative officer of Digitas, Jo Coombs as chief operating officer at Publicis Groupe UK and now Rudd running Leo Burnett (and Fallon – although how long that brand continues to exist other than in name must surely be in question), it shows the importance she places on talent and also the loyalty that she engenders.
Over at Wunderman Thompson, there is proof that Wunderman has the whip hand in this merger – no great surprise there, given that the former component part of this new agency has been in the ascendancy (it won Campaign’s Customer Engagement of the Year for the second year running) and the latter has had a more challenging time.
While no senior J Walter Thompson heads have yet rolled – although there does seem to be a large number of people shifted into "global lead" roles – it’s also great to see the Partners Andrews Aldridge founder Steve Aldridge back taking the chief creative officer position. In recent years, Wunderman has been a great new-business machine, driven by its data capabilities. What it hasn’t been is a creative powerhouse. Let’s hope Aldridge drives this forward too. Because, as Rudd says, it’s all about the work.
Jeremy Lee is contributing editor at Campaign