It’s not the first time Jason Peterson has been more than just a creative chief. This time, however, the scale is much bigger.
Peterson, chief creative officer at the Chicago office of Havas Worldwide, today adds the role of co-president. The office, whose top accounts include Citibank, Dish Network (digital ads) and Reynolds, employs about 300 staffers.
The last time Peterson was an agency co-president (and executive creative director) was at Translation in New York, where he worked from 2009 to the end of 2010. When he joined Translation, its headcount was only around 15 but it grew to about 70 as the agency added assignments from McDonald’s and State Farm. Still, that’s about a quarter of the size of Havas Chicago.
In his new management role, Peterson, 44, succeeds Norm Yustin, who’s exiting the agency after two years. The shop’s other president is Joy Schwartz, who incidentally helped recruit Peterson to Havas almost three years ago. Schwartz, 43, joined the agency in 2009.
The changes tighten the Chicago management circle just as the shop takes on a major account, Dish’s digital business, which arrived last week after a review. (Havas’ Chicago and New York offices partnered on the pitch.) Dish spends an estimated $85 million annually on display ads, search marketing and online video.
Both Peterson and Schwartz continue to report to Ron Bess, CEO of Chicago and North American president of Havas.
Bess, reflecting on Peterson’s new job, said, “Jason is precisely the right person for this role, given his extensive creative leadership, digital expertise and ability to anticipate what will resonate with clients and consumers.”
Peterson, for his part, acknowledged that as a creative leader, “it’s such a challenge” to take on a broader management role. Still, he said he’d keep it simple, stressing collaboration and his motto of “Everything matters.”
“The biggest thing is collaboration,” Peterson added. “The success we’ve had is based on that.”