For the second time in as many years, TBWA is recasting at the top of the creative department of its largest office, according to sources.
David Kolbusz, a partner and deputy executive creative director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty in London, is in advanced talks to share the top creative role at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., sources said. Plans call for him to partner with Stephen Butler, one of the office's three ecds. The duo will succeed John Norman, who is exiting after just 20 months and joining Translation.
TBWA declined to comment but sources said that the move was imminent.
At BBH, Kolbusz has played a leading role in many of the shop's most high-profile ads in the past three years, including "Three Little Pigs" for The Guardian, "Lifeguard" for Unilever's Axe and most recently, "Make Love, Not War," for Axe. The Axe ads ran on the last two Super Bowls.
Before BBH, Kolbusz was a group cd at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, where he worked on brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Denny's and Nintendo. Earlier in his career, he was at Mother in London.
Butler joined TBWA\C\D in August and works on Nissan, among other accounts. He knows Kolbusz from Mother, where he too worked, from 2005 until last year.
The move comes as Playa del Rey aims to rebound from business setbacks in the past two years, including the loss of Visa in 2012 and Pepsi shifting its brand advertising work to shops like Mekanism. On the plus side, however, the office added brand image responsibilities on Southwest Airlines in 2012 and is a finalist in Wells Fargo's current creative review.
Other key clients in Playa del Rey include Pepsi's Gatorade, Nissan, Adidas and Energizer. The office, long considered the epicenter of TBWA, employs some 550 staffers and is home to global chairman Lee Clow.
In recent years, Clow has stepped back from day-to-day operations, though he remains close to Adidas and Apple, which is run by the TBWA\Media Arts Lab next door. So, the Kolbusz hire and pairing with Butler is crucial not only to growing the Omnicom Group agency but also its reputation as a top creative player in the industry.