Mark Hansen is heading back to Chicago to do what he has never done before: Run a department.
Next month, Hansen, who since 2009 has managed accounts like Gatorade and Visa at the Playa del Rey, Calif., office of TBWA\Chiat\Day, will join DDB Chicago as director of account management. The move marks his second tour in the Windy City: from 2006-09, he was a group management director at JWT Chicago.
In his new role, Hansen will lead a department of about 65 and join a managment team that includes CEO Peter McGuinness, chief creative officer Ewan Paterson and chief strategy officer John Kottman.
The agency's accounts include State Farm, McDonald's, Mars and Safeway. All told, the office employs about 375 staffers.
Although Hansen hasn't worked on those brands before, he does have related experience. At JWT he worked on Nestlé candy brands like Butterfinger. Similarly, DDB Chicago's Mars business includes advertising for Milky Way.
Even State Farm and Visa have something in common: Both are major sponsors of the NFL.
Hansen said he was attracted not only by the breadth of brands at DDB but also the shop's creative range. "It's not just one type of advertising or type of communication or type of brand," he said.
The 43-year-old Ontario native started talking to DDB about the role five months ago, and during the recruitment process, he met with most of the office leaders.
During the same period, TBWA\C\D lost its global Visa business to BBDO. So, as it turns out, it was a good time for Hansen to think about his next move.
While some ad executives need to be sold on working in Chicago, Hansen embraced the opportunity to return. Even after leaving the city for Los Angeles, Hansen kept a house in Evanston, Ill., and with the new job, he'll move back into his home.
As for his approach to leading others, Hansen likes to be hands-on—to a point. "It's more guidance, participation and being collaborative," he said. And at DDB, Hansen expects to collaborate across departments and in general, mix it up, have fun and bring a different perspective to marketer problems. His first day is Jan. 9.