DDB Gets Garfinkel

NEW YORK Lee Garfinkel’s three-month job odyssey ended last week when he accepted a post at DDB, where the high-profile creative will join the Omnicom Group shop’s equally well-known management.

The worldwide creative chief of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles spurned Publicis Groupe’s Maurice Levy, instead choosing to go to DDB New York as chairman and chief creative officer. David Droga, 34, moves to New York from Saatchi & Saatchi London to fill the worldwide creative director post at Publicis.

DDB’s Bob Kuperman is relinquishing the chairman title but remains CEO and president. Another new top-level teammate is Bob Scarpelli, DDB Chicago chairman and U.S. chief creative officer. The three report to DDB Worldwide CEO Ken Kaess.

John Staffen, ecd at DDB New York since October 2001, now reports to Garfinkel.

Kaess, a friend of Garfinkel’s since the two met several years ago in Bermuda, promised, “There are no egos here. We’re a collaborative culture.”

Kuperman said he won’t miss the chairman title. “[It] impresses you for a week. Then it comes down to work,” he said. “I envision a partnership with Lee similar to the one I had with Lee Clow [at Chiat/Day].”

Garfinkel will focus on the office’s creative while Kuperman concentrates on client relationships. But Garfinkel, who will start sometime in the first quarter, said, “I haven’t gotten there yet, so there’s no way for me to see how this will evolve.”

Garfinkel said he was motivated less by money or an impressive office than by a desire to “be in a place with great clients and that produced good work that would challenge me.”

Garfinkel, 47, was a big catch for D’Arcy when then-chief branding officer Susan Gianinno and CEO John Farrell hired him in September 2001. “We knew we wanted Lee and nobody else,” Gianinno said at the time.

The Bronx native, who likes to say he leads by example, achieved success at Levine, Huntley, Schmidt & Beaver and BBDO. At Lowe, where he was chief creative officer, he produced award-winning work for Mercedes-Benz and Heineken, among others, and the latter followed Garfinkel to D’Arcy.

Garfinkel’s exit from D’Arcy, not surprisingly, was far less harmonious than his arrival. Levy told Adweek last Monday he was confident Garfinkel would accept his offer, first tendered in October, soon after Levy decided to dissolve D’Arcy. The holding company head noted that the creative was “deeply involved [in the work]. You don’t have a man who’s about to leave.”

But on Wednesday, Garfinkel turned Levy down. “Regarding Lee Garfinkel, I have absolutely no comment,” Levy said after announcing the Droga hire.

Garfinkel’s decision to leave so incensed Gianinno, who is set to become CEO of Publicis USA, that security was called to escort him out, sources said.

Gianinno did not return calls. A D’Arcy rep disputed that account, calling it a “myth.”

The loss of Garfinkel calls into question the future of three D’Arcy accounts worth a combined $260 million in billings. They include Heineken ($60 million U.S.), Cadbury chocolate ($30 million pan-European and Canada) and Capital One ($170 million U.S. and U.K.), which hears creative presentations this week.

Sources said Heineken considers Garfinkel key to understanding its brand. Many expected the client to follow Garfinkel if he left Publicis, but DDB Chicago has Budweiser on its roster. “We haven’t made any decisions as to what our next move would be,” said client rep Dan Tearno.

Sources said Cadbury awarded its account to D’Arcy/Publicis because it was promised Garfinkel as lead creative. Cadbury could not be reached.