Hashem Bajwa Leaves TBWA For Droga5 After Just 6 Weeks

By Matt Van Hoven 

AdWeek posted the story straight yesterday, about two new hires at Droga5.

“Neil Heymann, former associate creative director at Young & Rubicam, as interactive cd, and Hashem Bajwa, most recently executive director of strategy and innovation at TBWA\Digital Arts, as director of digital strategy.”

As the story notes, Bajwa was at TBWA (executive director, strategy and innovation) for just 6 weeks before moving on. Rumor has it he didn’t want to be part of a large agency, and was unhappy with the agency’s “dysfunctional structure.” We looked into it and according to our interview with Bajwa, it’s pretty much all true.

But like all advertising stories, there’s more to this.

“I left TBWA because of a lot of reasons…I didn’t like the big corporate agency culture, there’s not a strong central leader that wants to embrace digital throughout the way some of the most innovative agencies like Droga or Goodby have, it felt like a very political place that tripped up over itself more than got stuff done, and Digital Arts just became a confused thing without a clear purpose or buy in from all the key players in the company. They’ll get their rhythm over time I think, it just wasn’t for me and felt like a barrier.”

A source we spoke with who does not work at TBWA but works in this area of the business noted that the situation

“raises questions…about the viability of tbwa digital arts…who wants a swat team parachuting in, imposing their thing and pissing off. [A]lso, rumor has it, this antipathy is heightened in tbwa agencies by them all having to pay a levy to pay for digital arts. they’re basically taxed for it.”

Bajwa went on to say that he missed New York.

“I left Goodby because I really missed New York. I had been here in college and worked all in all for 7 years in NYC and wanted to come back. I wanted to also try something a bit different in my career. TBWA Digital Arts looked like it’d be a unique and different thing but ultimately I felt miserable there.”

As for his new gig, says Bajwa, “Droga is a place that’s nimble, fast moving, doing great innovative work and its a growing place where with the team here I can help shape what strategy becomes and the future of the company too. My role is to keep up with what is new in the world of tech and the web, figure out what’s useful and relevant, help inspire creative people about digital and help shape what digital strategy means for clients.”

Another thought we had regarding his departure, which has been repeated by others, is that Bajwa may have gotten the offer from Droga after he accepted the job at TBWA, and didn’t know how to back out.

We’re awaiting further comment from TBWA.

Update: TBWA has now joined the conversation with their official statement, which reads:

“In an economic climate like the one we find ourselves in, it is of the utmost importance to us that any new hires we make be deeply applicable to our clients in a hand[s] on, roll up your sleeves, manner. Unfortunately, despite several attempts, we were unable to find the right fit for Hashem in this regard. Hashem is a nice guy but he didn’t really want to work on projects and this created problems on both sides.”

More: “A Response to Digital Done Right