Initiative Signs Its First Global Chief Creative Officer

Media agency veteran Nick Childs joins IPG shop

Initiative named Nick Childs as its first global chief creative officer this month.

Childs joins the media agency, which is part of the IPG Mediabrands group, after spending five years as executive creative director at Omnicom-owned PR firm FleishmanHillard. His hiring marks an attempt to focus on the creative output of an organization that maintains offices in 73 markets and works with such international clients as Unilever, SAB Miller, BMW and Amazon.

"I'm beyond excited to be joining the agency at this stage of their journey and point in my career," Childs told Adweek. "In the past decade, we've seen the rise of integrated, strategically driven creative ideas that stretch across all media, and Initiative has a huge opportunity to add to that growth."

The CCO said his new job will focus on reaching consumers "beyond the world of 30-second TV spots." He will oversee creative story-building and trans-media content development, or as Childs puts it, "building stories with the audience rather than just telling stories at them." He cited George Lucas's work in expanding the Star Wars behemoth as the ultimate example of such a practice.

Prior to joining FleishmanHillard in 2010, Childs spent more than three years with Grey New York as evp and director of content development. In his new role, which officially began on Sept. 1, he reports to Initiative global CEO Jim Elms. The two worked together when Elms held the evp/director of context planning role at Grey in the mid-2000s.

At Initiative, Childs will work to ensure the agency's offices collaborate effectively. He said he will "help groups within Initiative that are already doing great work [by] reaching in, touching that work and helping to elevate it creatively."

Media agencies have recently grown more assertive with their creative projects, he added. "My positioning here is to continue to bring in different viewpoints and skill sets that hopefully open new ways of thinking in the trans-media space," he said. The goal is that "our creative ideas work across media."

Elms said: "We are thrilled to welcome Nick to the team," noting that the Initiative organization is "not afraid of doing things differently."

Initiative's first global creative lead has collected an assortment of industry awards for his past work, including Cannes Lions for Canon's "Beyond the Still" project and a campaign created to support the 2007 best-selling Penguin young adult novel 13 Reasons Why.

Regarding work to come from Initiative, Childs tells Adweek to expect "integrated, fully conceived campaigns that have touch points across a lot of different platforms…These will be connected stories, so we can use the broad term 'media' as a way to connect with audiences at different places and different times."

"Good creatives are interested in the different ways we can connect with audiences. I'm not a big fan of blocking someone's digital experience to get them to watch an ad."