JWT’s Balancing Act: Shop Ups 10 to ECD

Traditionally, J. Walter Thompson has been known as an account-management shop. In New York, for example, all seven of the evps are account executives.

But JWT North America president Bob Jeffrey wants more balance in his top management. Toward that end, he has named 10 creatives and the broadcast-production chief to evp and added them to the management committee, which sets priorities and direction for the agency.

“It’s really about giving creative leadership a voice at the table,” said Jeffrey, now in his fifth year at JWT. “There had been too much weight historically [given to account management].” The New York office, which claims about $1.4 billion in billings, counts among its major clients Unilever, Pfizer and Domino’s.

Nine group creative directors were promoted to evp/ecd. In addition, New York chief creative officer Mike Campbell has added a 10th: David Lowe, a former creative director on Kmart at TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York. Broadcast-production chief John Garland also advanced to evp and a seat on the committee.

Jeffrey said the new titles and higher status for creatives are part of a plan to have the office operate like “a billion-dollar startup,” in which each group has autonomy over its clients. (The 10 ecds will be paired off, each with a set list of clients. Besides seeking to gain new work from those companies, the ecds will contribute to new-business efforts. They will also mentor junior staffers, said Campbell.)

Jeffrey added that the move also is designed to recognize creative strides the shop has made recently. (Two recent Super Bowl spots, for example, were well received: a Trident squirrel spot from this year’s game and a 2002 Lipton Brisk ad in which “the puppet community is up in arms.”)

The New York management committee, which includes Jeffrey, Campbell and chief operating officer Marc Capra, will double in size with the addition of the 11 new evps.

Asked how his role will change, Campbell said, “I’m still going to walk the hallways and continue to be part of every piece of business that we have. But at the same time, I don’t have to micromanage.”

The newest ecd, Lowe, had been freelancing at JWT since October. He left TBWA\C\D in July; before that, he held a senior creative post at Lowe.

The freelance work came after a recommendation from Lowe chief creative officer Gary Goldsmith, a friend and former partner of Jeffrey. It also helped that Campbell and Lowe knew each other from BBDO, where they were part of Charlie Miesmer’s creative group in the early ’90s.

As a freelancer, Lowe, 43, has worked on brands such as Baileys Irish Cream, Merrill Lynch and Miller, a Chicago client. At JWT, he will partner with Michael Hart, who has worked on Lever 2000. (Their new account duties are being ironed out.)

The other ecds, by team, are Jon Krevolin and Eric Steinhauser, Richard Sabean and Jeff Watzman, Chris D’Rosario and Ed Evangelista, and Larry Silberfein and Alex Wilcox. Six of the creatives have joined the shop in the past two years. Each reports to Campbell.

Another senior creative in New York, worldwide creative director Roger Rowe, has left the agency.

Rowe, who worked on Pfizer and Baileys, had been at JWT since 2000. It is unclear if his exit was related to the restructuring. Campbell declined comment, and Rowe could not be reached.