Though not a surprise, the departure of TBWA/Chiat/Day creative chief Eric McClellan comes as the agency is starting to develop campaigns for two big new clients: Barnes & Noble ($35 million) and Promus Hotel Corp. ($40 million).
McClellan, 38, the chief creative officer since 1996, is the third department head to exit the shop in the past year, after corporate media director Stacey Lippman and Andrew Chinich, director of broadcast production. Both have been replaced.
For now, agency network chiefs Bob Kuperman and Lee Clow will absorb McClellan's duties. Kuperman, president of the Americas for TBWA International, has spent more time in New York this year and played a key role in that office's recent new business wins, which followed a dry spell. Clow, creative director of TBWA, participated in the Barnes & Noble pitch, sources said.
A permanent replacement could be named within weeks. Looking to draw new talent, the network will likely turn to an outsider rather than promote from within.
One of the shop's three managing partners, McClellan was believed to be exploring outside job opportunities amid speculation about changes in leadership at the agency.
McClellan, who earlier worked at Deutsch and BBDO in New York, was not specific about his plans. "It has been an exhilarating and eye-opening experience, and now I'm going to exhale a little bit," he said.