NEW YORK Dentsu America confirmed that CCO, evp Mike Wilson has left the agency. He had joined the shop in December 2006.
The former Ogilvy & Mather group creative director was positioned by the agency as a key player, brought in to help build a stronger U.S. presence for the Japanese advertising giant. Dentsu has struggled to gain a foothold since its domestic market entry in 1966.
Wilson could not be reached for comment. In a statement, Dentsu America offered a terse explanation, saying Wilson "departed the agency amicably after serving two-and-a-half years as chief creative officer, based on a mutual decision to pursue different directions."
Tim Andree, the Dentsu America CEO who recruited Wilson, declined to comment further or address reports that Wilson had been fired. Dentsu America creative directors Paul Laffy and Bruno Corbo, who were recruited by Wilson from Ogilvy, were named co-lead cds in the wake of Wilson's departure.
Wilson's abrupt exit follows a controversial lawsuit filed by another top Dentsu America creative chief who was fired by Andree in November 2006. Steve Biegel, an svp at the agency, sued Toyo Shigeta, Dentsu North America's top exec, and Andree in October '07, alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Dentsu, in turn, threatened to bring counterclaims for defamation and fraud. The case was settled last July.
Wilson, who spent 10 years at Ogilvy and made his mark there with work on DHL, Kodak and American Express, told Adweek in 2007 that he struggled with the decision to leave that agency.
Andree, a former Dentsu client at Canon and Toyota, joined the agency in 2006 as its first American chief exec. He has grown in the esteem of Dentsu's Tokyo-based management, being named the first non-Japanese executive at Dentsu Inc. in 2008 and given expanded oversight of the company's European and South American operations. Even so, U.S. ops have yet to make significant inroads in new business; instead, Andree has grown Dentsu America through acquisitions. Last November, Dentsu America bought independent agency mcgarrybowen in an all-cash deal; in October '07, Andree acquired digital and design consultancy Attik.
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