Doe-Anderson’s Top Creative Embraces Freedom

After CME, White Returns to Louisville and an Independent Shop
ATLANTA–Two months after finding himself the odd man out at Campbell Mithun Esty, Jim White has landed back in bluegrass country.
Last week, White was named chief creative officer and senior vice president at Doe-Anderson Advertising and Public Relations in Louisville, Ky. White, 41, previously held the CCO position at CME, Minneapolis, which experienced remarkable growth during his tenure. In his 15 months there, the agency added almost $300 million in billings through heavyweights such as AirTouch and Alberto Culver.
At the IPG-owned agency, White was the hand-picked choice of chief executive Howard Liszt, but became a casualty when control of the shop was centralized under chairman Bill Dunlap. The agency never took to White’s “jump ball” strategy, in which creative teams compete on campaigns and business pitches, sources said.
White, unbowed, said he relishes joining a shop unconnected to any holding company.
“[Doe-Anderson is] privately held, which is very rare in today’s world,” he said. “We don’t have conflicts; we don’t have anybody telling us what we can and can’t do. … All the great shops–Wieden, Fallon, Martin before they sold out, McKinney & Silver [before] they sold out–have that creative freedom. All the great creative is being done by [the] independents.”
White worked at Doe-Anderson in the early 1980s as a senior art director. Now with $86 million in billings, it is less than one-tenth the size of CME. And, perhaps more tellingly, it is roughly the same size Long Haymes Carr was when White started working there. (He left the Winston-Salem, N.C., shop in 1997 to join CME.) White knows his job is to make history repeat itself.
“I see a huge opportunity here,” he said. “First, you have to be the best locally, then the best in the region, then you can become a major player. We’re already the best locally. Now we can start moving on to the next step.”