With the appointment of new creative leaders from Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, JWT CEO Bob Jeffrey seems to be trying to regain the star power he lost when Ty Montague left in 2010.
Since then, JWT has lost most of its Microsoft business and has been unable to attract significant new accounts. And creative progress shown under Montague, who was North American chief creative officer (and regional co-president) for five years, has waned under New York CCO Peter Nicholson. As a result, Nicholson is exiting his post after just one year.
One of the first tasks facing the new creative leaders—North American CCO Jeff Benjamin and Mike Geiger, president and chief integration officer for the region—is to find a new New York creative chief. Benjamin, who was chief creative officer at Crispin in Boulder, Colo., and Geiger, who was chief digital officer at Goodby in San Francisco, will join JWT next month.
While the creative hires will buy him some time, North American CEO David Eastman still has to prove that he can be as effective a business leader as his predecessor, Rosemarie Ryan. Eastman became North American chief in 2010 after Ryan and Montague resigned to start their own shop. Benjamin, 36, and Geiger, 44, will partner with Eastman, 48, to lead the region. All will be based in New York.
Benjamin, who also was a partner at Crispin, spent eight years at the MDC Partners agency, working on accounts like Domino's, Coke Zero, Microsoft and Burger King. Before Crispin, he was a senior art director at Goodby.
Geiger had worked at Goodby since 2003. His brand experience ranges from Sprint and Hewlett-Packard to Comcast, the NBA and Got Milk? Before assuming the shop's top digital role in 2008, he ran its interactive production department.
Jeffrey described Benjamin and Geiger as "game changers," adding, "With these appointments, JWT solidifies its position as the only agency that can deliver creativity and execution at the intersection of Silicon Alley, Madison Avenue and Hollywood." Parent company WPP Group, for one, is hoping that he's right.