JWT Picks New ECD

A great reel—sure. But Mike Campbell, the new evp and executive creative director at J. Walter Thompson, also brings experience in direct marketing and interactive advertising.

In fact, Campbell’s first job in the industry—in 1982—was at the former Ogilvy & Mather Direct in New York. And in 1999, he helped launch BBDO’s interactive unit, @tmosphere. He returned to the traditional agency fold in 2000 as an evp and senior creative director, working on Pepsi.

During two stints at BBDO, the art director worked on HBO, Pizza Hut, Texaco and the New York Stock Exchange.

His reel includes 1998’s “Laundromat” for Doritos, in which an acrobatic babe in a belly shirt catches chips shot out of a spinning dryer between her teeth. The performance leaves two teenage males speechless until one utters, “Ay Chihuahua!”

It was a simpler spot, however—1998’s “Apology” for FedEx—that caught the eye of JWT president Bob Jeffrey. In it, text rolls across a test pattern explaining that a big-budget ad for “EarthCo Insurance” wasn’t running because it didn’t reach the network on time. The reason? The agency didn’t use FedEx. “High concept, low production” was how Jeffrey described it.

At JWT, Campbell, 45, takes the reins of a 125-person department that has operated without a creative chief for more than a year. His mission? Bring consistency to the agency reel and “build a strong creative community and culture,” Jeffrey said. Campbell added, “You have to create an atmosphere where people aren’t afraid to say stupid things or fail. … I think the trap is over-promising. I’d rather go in and surprise.”