Chris Ford, previously executive creative director at Ogilvy & Mather in Sydney, Australia, is returning to San Francisco as the chief creative officer of Draftfcb’s agency there. Prior to Ogilvy, Ford had spent 11 years at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, where he was associated with work for Comcast, Saturn, and TiVo.
Ford is the third new regional CCO hired since Tom O’Keefe became Draftfcb’s North American executive creative director in February 2010. In October, Darren Moran, a global creative director at Young & Rubicam in New York, joined Draftfcb N.Y. as CCO. This week, Todd Tilford, an ecd at Grey N.Y., began working at Draftfcb Chicago as its new CCO.
The CCO role at Draftfcb S.F. is new at the Interpublic office, which works on business like Electronic Arts, Dockers, California Public Utilities Commission, Pacific Gas & Electric, Del Monte, and Kikkoman. Draftfcb S.F. has produced some of the agency’s most high-profile creative work with award-winning campaigns like “Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2” for EA and “Wear the Pants” for Dockers.
Ford will also have oversight of the Interpublic agency’s Seattle office, which works for Hewlett-Packard and Providence Everett Medical Center & Cancer Partnership. Draftfcb has 35 staffers in its S.F. creative department and eight in Seattle.
O’Keefe, who previously worked at FCB S.F., said Ford would work closely with Draftfcb West Coast president Dominic Whittles, a 25-year agency veteran who has been with the shop since predecessor agency FCB produced the highly acclaimed work for Levi’s.
“Draftfcb San Francisco is really poised for great things with Chris, and a big part of that is also Dominic, who has grown up in the creative culture of San Francisco going back to work for 501 jeans,” said O’Keefe. “There is still something about that in our office there, and Dominic is an account guy who believes in an agency culture where the work is the most important thing.”
O’Keefe said Draftfcb first talked to Ford almost two years ago, when he was still a group cd at Goodby. Ford later moved to Ogilvy Sydney, where he stayed for 11 months before parting ways in May. He has also worked at Chiat/Day N.Y.; JWT S.F. and Wolfe/Doyle S.F., where the copywriter began his career. Outside of advertising, Ford also wrote and directed the 2008 independent film The Village Barbershop featuring Cheers alumnus John Ratzenberger. Ford joins Draftfcb on Aug. 29.
News of Ford’s hiring comes on the heels of the agency’s client loss, in late July, of S.C. Johnson after a 60-year relationship.
The hiring of Ford completes O’Keefe’s revamp of Draftfcb’s top creative leadership. O'Keefe points to changes at the agency’s New York creative department, which has seen a 50 percent turnover since Darren Moran’s arrival last fall, as a sign of the shop’s determination to raise its creative game.
“It’s good to have some of this new outside perspective,” O’Keefe said. “How do we take these great creatives and bring them into our organization and give them total charge of the work to improve and upgrade it? This is the first time we are pulling together our North American ranks and operating as a network.”