Havas has hired industry veteran John Norman as its chief creative officer in Chicago.
Norman will oversee a creative department with a client roster that includes Hefty, Reynolds, Orbitz, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Cracker Barrel and Moen.
He fills the vacancy left by former Havas North America co-chairman and CCO Jason Peterson, who departed “on mutual agreement” in November amid controversy surrounding his “Employee of the Month” exhibit in the Chicago office’s lobby. The exhibit appeared to shame staffers who criticized Peterson’s leadership style on the anonymous industry chat app Fishbowl, and Peterson subsequently said he’d “do it again in a minute.” Peterson also sparked controversy last August with an odd internal video in which he made comments referring to agencies like BBDO and Leo Burnett as “shitty” while stating that Havas’ real competitors are “kids with iPhones.”
In a statement, Havas North America chairman and CEO Paul Marobella said the Chicago office plays a “unique role” in the company’s portfolio, “one that is passionate about modern creativity on modern platforms and determined to find new and interesting ways to blend the craft of storytelling with the power of culture.” He said the agency was looking for “a top talent—a respected and award-winning executive who is also a good fit for this mission ” in a chief creative officer.
“John’s experience and work speaks for itself, as he’s led creative for some of the world’s best agencies and managed creative teams for some of the most iconic advertising in the recent past,” Marobella said. “He will be an incredible addition to the Chicago office, the Havas creative team in North America and the local Chicago creative community.”
Norman joins Havas after more than four and a half years as partner and CCO for Translation, only leaving the agency in September. Before joining Translation in early 2014, Norman served stints as chief creative at The Martin Agency and TBWA\Chiat\Day. Before that, he served as group creative director for GS&P and executive creative director at W+K Amsterdam. He has worked with such brands as Coca-Cola, Heineken, HP, Honda, Nespresso, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Comcast, Adidas, Gatorade, Nissan, Southwest Airlines and Pepsi.
Norman said in a statement he was “beyond thrilled” to join Havas Chicago.
“My goal is to build upon Havas Chicago’s heritage as an unconventional agency—from the art on the walls to the people to what we do—and use the power of hybrid storytelling to create ideas with simple human truths, told with provocative single-minded narratives across all media channels,” he added. “Havas has built the assets and cultivated the culture; curating and connecting the dots will be the focus.”
In January, Peterson formed a new, Chicago-based content agency called The Times.
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