Jean-Marie Dru: Portrait of a Risk Taker

Disruption is at once a method, a way of thinking and a state of mind. It is a manner of questioning the way things are, of breaking with what has been done and seen before, of rejecting the conventional.

With these words Jean-Marie Dru began the preface of his 1996 best-selling book Disruption, a 250-page examination of the brand-building process and the methodology of breaking out of creative ruts. It is a theory based on risk taking and breaking the rules—just what Lee Clow emphasized in an internal memo confirming Dru’s appointment as the new president and worldwide CEO of the agency.

“Do brave things. Change rules. Have fun,” Clow wrote.

Unconventional thinking has driven Paris-based Dru throughout his advertising life. A business-school graduate, he began his career as an account executive on Procter & Gamble at Dupuy Compton (which later became Saatchi & Saatchi), but soon his passion for the work led him to the creative department and to the role of executive creative director. He went on to become managing director and CEO of Young & Rubicam, and later became one of the chief architects of the BDDP Group, helping to establish the agency network in 1984.

Said one colleague of Dru, “He’s passionate about the clients, the work and about the business.” The appointment, said Clow, “solidifies our commitment to a strategic and business vision that is as bold as our creative mission.”