NEW YORK -- In her first major personnel moves since taking the reins of TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York, agency president Shona Seifert has decentralized the creative department and named a new head of client services.
Robert Birge has become director of client services and integration, succeeding director of client services Drew Beaver, who left the agency last summer.
Seifert's moves are designed to increase focus on the clients, and, in the case of the creative department, link senior creatives with specific accounts. Five creative group heads each now work on a handful of accounts.
Overseeing the groups is North American creative director Chuck McBride, who plans to spend one week a month in New York. McBride, who continues to be based in San Francisco, working primarily on Adidas, will function as a "coach" and "glue" for the department of 30. "It's a good office. We've got some great opportunities," said McBride. "We just need to capitalize on them."
Patrick O'Neill and Dallas Itzen, who ran the department as co-ecds for the past 1 1/2 years, have been recast in supporting roles. They become two of the five group heads, joining the team of Richard Overall and Simon McQuoid, who were cds. The fourth team of Doug Jaeger, former interactive cd, and Johnny Vulkan, who acted as "chief of staff," will not function as a traditional creative team. Dubbed the "Disruption" group, the two are meant to provide "big ideas" for multiple clients.
The shop is searching for a fifth group head, with an eye out for someone with a "track record of creating outstanding work, especially for demanding clients," said Seifert.
Seifert expects the new setup to make the department "agile and nimble" and make the work better. "There's no doubt that there's room for improvement," she added.
While the agency has won some new business lately, its reel is seen as inconsistent. "It's a consistency thing, and it's an effort thing," said McBride. "I think we've underachieved a little bit. ... What's really needed is that added layer of leadership and change." He noted that his new duties are "part of a growing process" to be "a bit more active as North American creative director." Besides, he added, with a nod to O'Neill and Itzen, "If we row together, we're going to be a better team."