Clearer Path to Power Leads Ex-FCB Creative to Ditch McCann
LOS ANGELES–Lee Clow’s years-long courtship of Gary Topolewski looked futile last month when McCann-Erickson/A&L snared him for its top post.
But the exits of senior creatives at TBWA\Chiat\Day opened doors that led the longtime FCB Worldwide Detroit creative chief to rethink his options. Topolewski, best known for his Jeep work, was named to the new post of executive creative director at TBWA\C\D in Playa del Rey, Calif., just four days before he was due at McCann.
Executives at McCann in San Francisco were miffed.
“We had a deal and he just decided to back out on his commitment,” said a McCann executive.
Topolewski will report directly to Clow, TBWA\C\D Worldwide’s chairman and chief creative officer. “I wouldn’t have taken this job if Lee wasn’t there,”‘ Topolewski said. “I’m basically going to help the agency get to a level where there is no question that Chiat is the premier creative agency in the world.”
The appointment follows the defections of several top creatives at TBWA\C\D that began with Rob Siltanen. Siltanen left in November to start a boutique. Last month, Chuck Bennett and Clay Williams left to become directors.
“I’ve been trying to get Gary to join us for a couple of years, but we always had a couple of vets here who would’ve made his job a little smaller than what he had at Detroit or McCann,” Clow said.
Rob Schwartz, promoted to worldwide creative director on Nissan, will be on the same level with Topolewski.
Clow said Topolewski was not hired specifically to be his successor. “We’ve got [San Francisco ECD Chuck] McBride and Schwartz. So I can’t … say that this is the one guy. I’ll say he’s one of the leaders.”
–with Justin M. Norton
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