BBH Seeks Outsider for ECD

NEW YORK Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s decision to split with executive creative director Kevin McKeon and seek a successor from outside the agency reflects the shop’s need to evolve, six years after opening in New York, president Cindy Gallop said on Tuesday.

“It really is about evolution,” Gallop said. “We have to keep looking to the future.” She further described McKeon’s exit this week as a “mutual” decision based on “a lot of hard thinking.” She did not elaborate, however, on the factors that led to McKeon’s departure, three years after taking the top creative job.

Agency chairman John Hegarty, who’ll absorb McKeon’s duties until a successor is found, attributed the split to “creative differences that were occurring within the agency” in the past three months. “There were some creative differences with the way Kevin was driving it,” Hegarty said. “It was not that it was bad. It was not what we wanted.”

Hegarty added that he “liked Kevin enormously” and was “hugely appreciative of what he has done.” On his watch, BBH’s staff and billings roughly doubled to more than 120 and an estimated $320 million today. McKeon also successfully recruited senior creatives such as former Cliff Freeman and Partners associate creative director William Gelner.

Still, Hegarty said, “We want more powerful [work]. We wanted the work to have a greater creative vision to it.”

McKeon, 46, also cited “different creative visions” as a primary reason for the split. “It’s clear that we’re on different pages,” he said, adding, “There are no hard feelings on my end. This was my first experience as an ecd. I have a better sense of what I want to do and I’ll go someplace to do it.”

The search for a successor has just begun and will be led by Gallop and Hegarty. The chairman said BBH was seeking an outside candidate because “we don’t have that person right here, right now.”

Before joining BBH in 2001, McKeon was a group creative director at Lowe in New York, working on brands such as Heineken, Perdue and Sony Electronics.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with reaction from McKeon and BBH executives.