Q&A: CAA Marketing’s Fred Levron Trades Paris for the Idea Factory That Is L.A.

'If I'm not scared about an idea, it might not be worth doing'


Specs
Who Fred Levron
New gig creative director, CAA Marketing
Old gig executive director and creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, Paris.
Age 36

You went from having a long title at Ogilvy to a very short one at CAA.
I come from the ad industry where we love titles and I had a long title, what we call a limousine title because it was so long. But what is interesting about the way CAA works is we really don't play around with titles. We have a group of senior people working together for a brand. That said, we have really strong creatives and strategists and accounts, but it is less about titles and more about the real value that you bring to the table.

What are your priorities for your first 100 days at CAA Marketing?
We're living in an interesting moment because we are now on the radar of two different industries: advertising, where we have respect for working on things like Chipotle, and we are also well respected in the entertainment world.

The challenge now is to own that sweet spot between creative and entertainment and to accelerate the opportunity to do more global creative work and to bring more global brands into our mission of building iconic brands through entertainment. We did it fantastically for Chipotle and with great initiatives with eBay and Microsoft, but we need to reach for even bigger things now. We've never been as busy working on the vision of CAA Marketing, which is meeting with the CMOs—and the CEOs—of the world.

What's inspiring you now, and what do you find discouraging?
When I first started, I straight away spent 12 hours a day working on briefs. But the team around me told me to slow down a bit and take half of your day and just meet people. So that has been inspiring to me. I also like to find my inspiration from making impossible stuff possible, and if I'm not scared about an idea, it might not be worth doing.

The great thing is that here we approach work with the idea that if we can't do it here, we'll find a way to make it happen somewhere—or some way—else. As for being discouraged, there's no room for that. What defines a great advertiser or branded entertainment activist is the capacity of never getting down. This takes a lot of energy and tenacity. We work on 10 things with only one working out, but that one will be a game changer.

How has the move to Los Angeles been?
The problem with France is that as soon as the sun is out, we don't want to do anything. So I have to fight the urge to be on vacation here all the time [laughs]. But the creative energy here has been fantastic.

Was there something that surprised you about L.A.?
What has been amazing for me is that pretty much everyone here, in one way or another, can help you accelerate an idea. I don't have regular hours to think about ideas from 9 to 6. It's a process that's ongoing, and it's so great to get feedback when you are out with people who are producers, directors, photographers, painters.