DDB Chicago Turns to Scarpelli

Bob Scarpelli now manages DDB’s largest office in addition to its most important product, the work he oversees as the agency’s U.S. creative chief.

Taking over as chairman of DDB Chicago was not an unexpected move for Scarpelli, 48, who has long been seen as a candidate for higher office. But the promotion has some observers wondering how he’ll do it all. “He’s definitely stretched out,” said a creative executive familiar with Scarpelli’s duties.

Scarpelli said replacing Alan Pilkington at Chicago’s helm in addition to his U.S. creative work is more manageable since Bob Kuperman took over as chairman of DDB New York in January. Scarpelli, who reports to North American president Dick Rogers as Chicago chairman and to worldwide CEO Ken Kaess in his U.S. creative post, spent much of his first year on the latter job in New York, ushering creative directors Steve Landsberg and David Nathanson out and trying to recruit new leadership.

“My focus now will be on client relationships, new business and maintaining the level of our creative work,” Scarpelli said.

Though he reports to Rogers and Kaess, Scarpelli remains under DDB Chairman Keith Reinhard, who’s involved with clients that include McDonald’s.

Scarpelli plays a key role on the agency’s Anheuser-Busch and McDonald’s accounts, and also is deeply involved in new business efforts, most recently playing a key role in the win of Phillip’s $300 million business and the unsuccessful attempt to snare Energizer’s $100 million consolidated account.

Scarpelli is now expected to increase his efforts to find a creative leader in Chicago, a position that had been expected to go to Mike Sheehan until he returned to Boston after one year working with McDonald’s.

Pilkington, 58, joined the Chicago office 10 years ago and for the last 15 months was president of North and South America. Rogers, president of DDB USA, will take over Pilkington’s North American duties, while South America will be handled by Eduardo Fernandez, president of DDB Latin America.

Although he saw the doubling of the office’s size, Pilkington’s Chicago reign ended following the loss of its General Mills account after 39 years, as well as its Energizer work, accounts that together totalled $170 million in billings.

The Australian native, who plans to take some time to evaluate his next move, said the decision was his own. “I just knew I didn’t want to retire in my 60s” he said.