Under its new CEO, Carter Murray, Draftfcb has reorganised and appointed Sebastien Desclée, formerly CEO of Duval Guillaume Modem and Publicis Belgium, as president, Draftfcb International.
Following Desclée’s appointment, Draftfcb’s 11 largest operations (North America, Healthcare, France, Germany, UK, Russia, Brazil/Mexico, Middle East, Greater China, South Africa and India) will report directly to Murray, while Desclée will preside over the remaining international offices around the world. Desclée will be based in Belgium and report directly to Murray.
In Asia-Pacific, the appointment means Murray puts his focus on Greater China and India, while other markets answer to Desclée. This, Murray promises, won’t mean delayed response times from the new leaders. “If any client would like to work with us, and can’t reach anybody, they can email me or call me directly. I’ll respond in 24 hours, promise!” he laughed, brimming with energy even at the end of a long workday.
Murray joined Draftfcb from Y&R North America in March, replacing Laurence Boschetto. Since then, he made several senior hires, such as Jonathan Harries as global chief creative officer and Elyssa Philips as Draftfcb’s chief of staff. More recently, Murray also hired Nigel Jones as chief strategy officer from Publicis UK and Lee Garfinkel as head of Draftfcb’s New York office.
The main reason Draftfcb has opted to do away with a conventional region-based structure is flexibility, explained Murray. “The thinking is, if you look at any multinational client, their most important markets tend to be the same eight or nine markets, plus a few additional markets in which they have a presence. This structure puts focus on the markets where scale really matters. So rather than have a regional model, we will have this structure which will let us build custom-teams for clients as needed.”
By having just two main leaders, Murray also hopes to empower local team leadership. “When you have the right people in the right place, they don’t like to be micromanaged, and nor do I want to,” he said.
Murray and Desclée plan to work with regional leaders such as Jonathan Allard, COO Asia-Pacific, who is to continue in his present role and report to Desclée. Murray, however, hinted at a new responsibility for the organisational head: “We have an important role for him in our team, which we will be announcing soon.”
The decision to hire Desclée, according to Murray, derived from his past success with Publicis Brussels and Duval Guillaume, where the two agencies won more than 30 Cannes Lions combined over the past two years and posted healthy financials. Creative Club of Belgium named Duval Guillaume Modem ‘Creative Agency of the Year’ in 2012 and 2013 after it produced viral hits for TNT (‘Push to Add Drama’) and Coke Zero (‘Unlock the 007 in You’). “He did this, not by being a one-man champion, but by building and nurturing teams already in place.”
With the new man on board, Murray aims to re-infuse energy into the agency worldwide. The company has faced a perception that its strongest work and resources are too concentrated in North America with weakness in other markets. Some even say the agency has been lethargic since losing its major client, SC Johnson.
“People don’t realise the scale and talent we have globally. With 8,000 people around the world, we’re the same size as Leo Burnett and Y&R,” Murray said. Still, his immediate goal is to ensure the agency is an “indispensible partner” to clients with “creative at the heart of everything we do.”
Rather than get the word out about its size though, the focus of the agency’s communications might be better placed on achievements outside of North America; put preaching into practice. “It’s important for us to get the word out more. But sometimes, I think we talk too much and that we need to do less talking and more walking. Fairly or unfairly, that is the perception.”
Another objective will be actualising Draftfcb’s ‘full-service agency’ promise (inclusive of creative strategy and media planning) on a global scale, rather than just in North America and Europe. “Eventually it’s a promise that every agency has to deliver, how and when we’ll do it is something we’re working on as a team.”
Murray is convening with the “top hundred” people in Draftfcb about the agency’s future positoning. “We will be rolling that out next year, and Sebastien’s appointment is a key part of its implementation.”
The article first appeared on www.campaignasia.com