DDB Doubles Down on ‘Flex’ Approach with First North American Chief of Staff

By Erik Oster 

DDB hired Catherine Locker in the newly-created position of North American chief of staff.

Her appointment sees the agency continuing its “DDB Flex” approach introduced by North American CEO Wendy Clark last year. That approach is indicative of an industry-wide shift away from compartmentalized departments to maximize efficiency and flexibility (see: Publicis’ silo-destroying “Power of One” approach). As you almost certainly know, it primarily means bringing in leadership from different offices to work on pitches and/or accounts.

“Catherine is a classically trained brand leader who has deep experience in leading and operationalizing brand initiatives across a complex multi-tiered organization on a global scale,” Clark said in a statement.

“Her experience and know-how make her the perfect fit to build the connective tissue between our agencies, our work and our clients,” she added. “Growth within our existing clients and new business wins mean we need her leadership and experience now more than ever to align and integrate our total network resources.”

Locker arrives at DDB from Coca-Cola, where she worked for more than ten years, most recently serving as global brand director and project director, global sparkling brand center. While there she worked with Clark, who joined DDB as North American president and CEO in November of 2015. Locker’s prior positions at Coca-Cola included global marketing manager and director of brand activation for Glaceau International. Before joining Coca-Cola, she spent a year as brand manager for L’Oreal Paris and a year as manager of new products for Burt’s Bees before that.

“More than ever clients need great work, at the speed of the marketplace with maximum efficiency. To meet these expectations, DDB has been driving more cross-agency collaboration and integration, and innovating the ways they work. I’m excited to add to and accelerate these already solid efforts,” Locker said.

Clark explained to Adweek that the dedication to the new “flex” approach includes utilizing talent across offices to best fit clients’ needs and even collaborating outside of Omnicom.

“It should be our expectation, regardless of ownership, that we work with their other chosen partners,” she noted. “With McDonald’s, we integrated with media partners like Facebook and Adobe.”

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