Word this week that Ogilvy creative exec Chris Garbutt will be leaving the agency arrived amid speculation that some loyalists to Miles Young, the agency network CEO who recently announced his retirement, are pondering their own future.
"What happens to Miles' people at Ogilvy now?" wondered one former Ogilvy exec. "The timing of his announcement, coming right before Cannes, the ultimate networking event, makes you wonder, are Miles' execs being poached? Are they already talking to other agencies?"
Garbutt, who last year was appointed chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather East in New York, was just named TBWA Worldwide's global creative president and New York chief creative officer.
At Ogilvy, Young's unexpected move away from agency life to become a top administrator at Oxford University has observers wondering what his inner circle may be planning as they wait to learn who his successor will be. Among the main targets of speculation is worldwide CCO Tham Khai Meng, who worked closely for eight years with Young in Asia and has been a driving force behind Ogilvy's recognition as Cannes Lions' Network of the Year for the last four years. Lauren Crampsie, whom Young promoted to global CMO in 2012 and Lou Aversano, elevated to CEO of Ogilvy New York last year, are also being mentioned.
"It's sheer speculation and gossip, and we'll have no further comment," Crampsie said of conjecture about herself and other top execs.
Garbutt was brought to Ogilvy New York from the agency's Paris office, where he was CCO of O&M France, by Tham and Young. But his departure is unrelated to Young's planned move, according to sources. He is said to have chafed at the volume of B2B work at the New York office, feeling it left him without the creative opportunities he'd previously had in his career.
At TBWA, Garbutt will replace Rob Schwartz, now CEO of TBWA\New York, and as creative chief in New York, he takes on a title unused since Mark Figliulo left the agency in 2013. (That year, Matt Ian joined TBWA as executive creative director to effectively replace Figliulo, but Ian just announced he'll leave the agency to work at Droga5 as a group creative director.)
Garbutt got his start in 1997 at TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris in South Africa before moving to TBWA\Paris in 2001 to become its ecd working on accounts like Absolut, PlayStation, Canderel and Pedigree.