Garfinkel Joins Euro RSCG (Updated)

Lee Garfinkel is getting back into the game.

Garfinkel, 55, the former chief creative officer of DDB New York, is joining Euro RSCG as chief creative officer, global brands. Garfinkel will be based in New York and will work alongside president of global brands, Matt Ryan, on worldwide accounts, such as ExxonMobil, Jaguar, Reckitt Benckiser and Kraft Foods. He starts this week, reporting to David Jones, global CEO of the Havas agency.

“The premium on big brand ideas is increasing,” Jones said. “That’s why I think creativity is becoming more important. And if you look at Lee and what he’s capable of—some of the big ideas that he has put together in his career—there are very few people with that level of talent in North America. So, it was a fantastic opportunity to bring him on board.”

The hire comes two months after Euro RSCG filled its New York chief creative officer slot with Al Kelly. Kelly joined an office management team that includes co-CEOs Jeff Brooks and Pete Zillig.

Since DDB replaced Garfinkel with Eric Silver in February 2009, Garfinkel has kept a low profile, working on, among other things, a script for a potential TV sitcom. His successor didn’t last long. DDB named Matt Eastwood to replace Silver in July 2010.

Garfinkel spent six years at Omnicom’s DDB, where he also was chairman. His clients there included Philips, the New York State Lottery, Georgia-Pacific and ExxonMobil, which employs several global shops. The oil company is in the midst of a global review of both creative and media duties.

The Euro RSCG position is new and focused on the work. As such, the role is free of the agency management responsibilities that Garfinkel had at DDB and previous shops D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Lowe. In fact, the job is more akin to what Garfinkel did earlier in his career at BBDO, when he created memorable work for Pepsi, including a 1992 Super Bowl spot for Diet Pepsi that featured Cindy Crawford.

“My mantra [is] lead by example and still be doing the work,” Garfinkel said. “It’s something I’ve always believed in. I’ve never been about sitting in the corner office and just ‘supervise.’ I always want to stay involved with the work.”