AOY '08: Q&A With TBWA's Tom Carroll | Adweek AOY '08: Q&A With TBWA's Tom Carroll | Adweek

AOY '08: Q&A With TBWA's Tom Carroll


Pepsi was a tight time frame.


How did that get rolling?

It was through Gatorade. That was our first entree and exposure to Pepsi. And then, once that happened, it got accelerated pretty quickly.

Was it something that you were anticipating?

Oh, God no. Just fell in our lap. The other thing is, the L.A. guys have proven that they can turn on a dime and do really quality stuff fast. Schwartz and Carisa have built an incredible machine out there.

It's a positive to have a really strong L.A. operation that in some ways is the center. Or, you can look at it as, if only New York could be that way.

It's really funny that everybody thinks New York has to be the center. Says who?

That's different compared to other networks.

I agree. It just happens to be the unique characteristic of TBWA Worldwide. And I think it's actually very consistent with who we are.

Is that as much about Lee as anything else?

Well, of course. It's as much about Lee and Apple and Nissan. Remember, those are our biggest global accounts, and they happen to be located on the West Coast. Any other New York network would give their right arm to be that big in L.A. Any network would be more than happy to be that big in L.A. and have Apple, Nissan and Visa as cornerstone accounts. ... The other thing is, in this world, it's a shorter flight to China from L.A. than it is from New York. It's just as long a flight to Brazil from L.A. as it is from New York. Who said L.A. can't be the center of a global network? It's not the center. It just happens to be the driving force of the network. And it's not just Lee. It's what Rob and Carisa and Lee and those guys have built together out there. Obviously, you can't overstate Lee's role. Yet, at the same time, you'd have to see what goes on to realize just how much other people out there are driving things. He'd be the first to tell you that.

Are you really starting from scratch in New York, with the hiring of Mark Figliulo from Young & Rubicam and the remaking of the creative department?

Many people have had unrealistic expectations for New York when you have an office as big as L.A. That being said, I've been in this office twice where we've been very, very strong. Back when we did the Nynex Yellow Pages, when Bill Hamilton was here, and as [recently] as five years ago, when we had Nextel and Mars. ... Where are we now? Just like L.A. has Apple, Nissan, global Pedigree, Visa -- big, global, marquee accounts -- New York has Absolut and Michelin. Those are also big, global, iconic accounts.

How do you characterize your strategy in New York?

The strategy for me in New York was, once [former ecd] Gerry [Graf] left, OK, let's stop and retreat. We were always plugging things in New York over the years, as opposed to just saying, "Stop. What do we have to do to lay down a firm foundation for New York?" You always have to start with creative leadership. In a network like TBWA, you have to have strong creative leadership. So, we took a long time to identify Mark. A lot of people were involved in identifying Mark. Mark just happens to have a lot of things our culture now puts a premium on. One, he has a great creative reputation, and he has done great work. Y&R Chicago was always in the top 10 for awards. He has got a point of view about everything, and he's a good guy at the same time. ... More than anything, he's creating a culture around New York. So, are we starting over? Yeah, kind of. But I think we'll get there really fast. New York will create its own identity really fast.

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