Ex-Campbell Mithun Esty Creative Chief Assumes Same Role
ATLANTA–Two months after finding himself odd man out at Campbell Mithun Esty, Jim White has landed in bluegrass country.
Last week White was named chief creative office and senior vice president at Doe-Anderson Advertising and Public Relations in Louisville, Ky. White, 41, had been creative chief at the $900 million Minneapolis agency and at Long Haymes Carr in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Both those agencies experienced remarkable revenue growth during White’s tenure. During his 15 months at CME, billings grew nearly $300 million. LHC was named Adweek’s Southeast Agency of the Year in 1997, White’s last there, and saw its billings balloon from less than $100 million to more than $300 million during the three years he headed its creative department.
White is known for his “jump-ball” strategy, in which creative teams compete for campaigns and on business pitches. A workaholic who speaks in sports metaphors, he is known as a hard-driving iconoclast who relishes control, a reputation his comments last week did nothing to dispel.
“[Doe is] privately held, which is very rare in today’s world,” White said. “We don’t have conflicts, we don’t have anybody telling us what we can and can’t do. It’s not about being part of a holding company. All the great shops–Wieden, Fallon, Martin before they sold out; McKinney & Silver, they’re on a downhill spiral since they sold out–have that creative freedom. Investments that you can make in creative [talent] you can’t in a big network because that’s not part of the 4A’s average. All the great creative is being done by independents.”
At CME, White was the hand-picked choice of the IPG-owned company’s chief executive officer, Howard Liszt, to shake things up at the conservative agency. He became a casualty when control of the shop was centralized under chairman Bill Dunlap, who sources said wanted a “more democratic” approach.
White returns to where he was senior art director in the early 1980s, a shop less than one-tenth the size of CME at $86 million in billings. That is roughly the same size as LHC when he arrived there. White knows his job is to repeat history.
“I see a huge opportunity here,” he said. “First you have to be the best locally, then the best in the region, then you can become a major player. We’re already the best locally. Now we can start moving on to the next step.”