Draftfcb Taps Simons as CCO

NEW YORK Draftfcb looked all the way to Sydney, Australia, to fill its top creative job in New York.

The Interpublic Group shop’s new chief creative officer is Michael Simons. He had served as executive creative director of Draftfcb’s Asia-Pacific region since mid-2007. Simons, 50, had previously been ecd of the Sydney office since 1998. Before that, he was a cd on Nike at independent Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore.

In New York, Simons succeeds Chris Becker, who had led the 130-person creative department since 2000. The 44-year-old Becker, whose exit had been expected, is mulling two undisclosed options within the global network; both are in emerging markets. He will finalize his plans next month.

The changing of the guard comes near the end of a challenging year for the New York office, whose top clients include Kraft Foods, CA and Merck. The agency has added business from Avon, Boehringer Ingelheim, DirecTV (direct marketing), Novogyne Pharmaceuticals and ViaCell. It claims not to have lost a client since mid-2007, but that client, Verizon, was huge.

Plus, clients have spent less prompting layoffs of nearly 50 employees in July. “[Simons] really has to rally the troops there and get everybody to really believe in themselves,” said agency worldwide CCO Jonathan Harries. “It’s pretty clear that it has definitely been difficult.”