Deutsch’s CCO on Diversity, New Talent and Keeping Up With Silicon Valley

Dan Kelleher says agencies and tech companies should partner


Who Dan Kelleher

Previous gig Co-CCO, KBS

Current gig CCO at Deutsch's New York office

Age 46

Adweek: Rather than operating as Deutsch New York and Deutsch L.A., the agency is now united. What does that mean for the organization?

Dan Kelleher: We still have our accounts [in New York] and L.A. still has their accounts, but now we have the benefit of Mike [Sheldon, CEO], Pete [Favat, North American chief creative officer] and Winston [Binch, chief digital officer] lending their expertise and fresh insights to all the projects we're working on. It's great for me, because it means more people with great big ideas who can help the work.

Favat said recently that Deutsch looks for talent in unconventional places like Instagram and Reddit. What's your take on hiring?

I want to hire people who are inspired and passionate, and those platforms can provide great examples of people not just [being creative] in their work, but doing it in their daily lives. That's the type of person we want to hire.

The biggest brand at Cannes was Snapchat, and Deutsch created the most successful platform campaign with Taco Bell's filters. But do you see tech companies as a threat to agencies, especially as clients are shifting their budgets?

There needs to be a true partnership or it won't work. If they're as excited about the creative as we are, then we will land in a great place. I don't see it as a threat at all—I see it as an opportunity. The idea of creating these types of partnerships is what we should be doing, and it's 100 percent in the best interest of our clients in reaching those consumers. Again, these types of opportunities are exciting to me, and it's our responsibility to bring in the right partners.

So how should agencies approach working with new tech toys?

I think the mistake that some agencies make is when there's a rush to be the first to use emerging tech, but there's no idea behind it. There's no point in being first if you don't do it right.

The photo of yourself, Favat and [L.A. office CCO] Jason Bagley led some to give Deutsch some grief as it depicted two white men hired in leadership positions after the elimination of the chief diversity officer position. What did you take from that controversy?

Diversity is more important now than ever, but a lot of what was being said was based on a snapshot rather than the overall picture at Deutsch. When I look at the New York office, we are 58 percent female, the creative department is 57 percent female, our department heads are 52 percent female. People were reacting to a photograph, but when you look, our CEO [Val DiFebo] and chairman [Linda Sawyer] are women. It's a conversation we should all be having, but I think it's important to look at the whole picture.

How has technology changed the nature of the problems you have to solve for your clients?

I don't know that the problems are that much different. … What we need to solve now is, how and where are we going to be talking to consumers about our clients?

This story first appeared in the August 8, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.

Click here to subscribe.