Topolewski Does It Again

DETROIT — For the second time in little more than a year, Gary Topolewski has ditched one new job for another at the 11th hour.

After a year at TBWA\ Chiat\Day, Topolewski had agreed to return to Detroit to work as one of five executive creative directors at Doner [Adweek, March 22, 2001].

He never made it to Doner, where his first day had been delayed from April 23 to May 15. Instead, Topolewski has signed on as chief creative officer at D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, here, to replace Robin Weeks, who left the agency about six weeks ago. He is slated to start there on May 21.

Doner chairman Alan Kalter, whose agency courted Topolewski over five months, was philosophical. “We’re not the first bride he’s left at the altar,” Kalter said.

In April 2000, Topolewski accepted the top creative post at McCann-Erickson/A&L in San Francisco.

Just days before he was to start there, he was lured to TBWA\C\D by Lee Clow.

Topolewski at that time said the chance to work with Clow at a preeminent creative shop was too great to pass up. This time, he said the offer to be a head creative at an agency in the midst of change proved too attractive to ignore.

“There’s such a bigger, huge opportunity as far as what they can do and what they can become, based on what they have going for them, the brands they have and what they have planned for the future,” Topolewski said. “For me, it’s that incremental thing — how much more of a difference can I make — and I think I can make a big difference at D’Arcy.”

Topolewski said he plans to “stay put” at D’Arcy and doesn’t worry about developing a reputation as flighty, given his 12 years at FCB, where he worked before going to TBWA\C\D.

Topolewski, 43, started his career at Doner 20 years ago as a junior copywriter. He built his reputation overseeing creative on Chrysler and Jeep at FCB in Southfield, Mich., formerly Bozell.

At D’Arcy, Topolewski will oversee creative for two General Motors brands, Cadillac and Pontiac, and partner with COO Stan Fields in running the agency.

Fields said he didn’t consider Topolewski for the top creative post until he read news reports that the Detroit native was returning home to work at Doner. Fields said he talked with other candidates, but once he realized Topolewski was interested, he focused on him.

At Doner, Topolewski would have reported to chief creative John DeCerchio, who Topolewski said understood his decision and remains a friend.