VML Names 2 Co-Chief Creative Directors, Strengthening U.S. Team

And a new director of recruiting

VML has promoted two creative leads for its North American network and hired a new director of creative recruiting to serve the same area.

The WPP network's global CCO Debbi Vandeven announced today that John Godsey and Mike Wente will serve as co-chief creative officers, while new hire Craig Badynee will oversee creative recruiting. All three are new positions.

Godsey and Wente, who were formerly executive creative director and managing director at VML's Kansas City and New York offices, played critical roles in the agency's 2016 new business wins, particularly its successful pitches for Electrolux and New Balance.

Badynee previously worked in creative recruitment for such agencies as JWT, FCB and DigitasLBi.

"John excels at creating brand ideas that change perceptions and blur the lines between advertising and entertainment," Vandeven said in a statement, citing his leadership of VML's work for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Gatorade's branded content series "Everything to Prove," which won a Silver Cannes Lion in 2012.

Wente took charge of VML's Manhattan office in 2012 after serving as group creative director. According to the release, he has since helped that location double in size while also helping to drive the agency's work for clients like Legoland, New Balance, Chevron and the International Olympic Committee.

"Known for his creative insight and passion for ideas, Mike has moved comfortably between all disciplines of marketing for a wide range of clients," Vandeven said of Wente. "Possessing strong leadership skills and a never say quit attitude, he believes great ideas are meant not to just sell things but to create an obsession for the brand."

Badynee will focus on talent acquisition and retention for VML's U.S. network while working out of its Chicago office. 

All three executives will report to Vandeven, who remains one of the ad industry's few female global chief creative officers. According to an agency spokesperson, these new hires were made, at least in part, to allow Vandeven more leeway to work on strengthening the VML network globally and focusing on both new and existing clients.