Scarpelli Seeks Sixth CD On McDonald’s in 6 Years

DDB U.S. chief creative officer Bob Scarpelli has had little luck in filling the top creative position on the $400 million U.S. McDonald’s account. Temerlin McClain has had little luck lately, period. Now the former’s loss is the latter’s gain.

Since DDB in Chicago took the lead role on McDonald’s in 1997, there have been four different creative leaders on the account: In 1997, Jim Ferguson oversaw creative from DDB in Dallas. John Staffen of DDB in New York replaced Ferguson in 1998. But Staffen stayed in the job less than a year, as did his successor Michael Sheehan, who returned to Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos nine months after Scarpelli deemed him a “perfect fit” for the account. DDB group creative director John Immesoete subsequently oversaw McDonald’s while maintaining his duties on Bud Light but returned to concentrate on Anheuser-Busch last year.

Last week, Scarpelli lost another creative leader on McDonald’s, as Ferguson decided to end his second tour at DDB and return to his native Texas to become chairman and chief creative officer of troubled Temerlin after only five months in Chicago.

During the 1990s, Ferguson won acclaim for his McDonald’s work at Leo Burnett and then DDB, even expanding one spot into the 1994 film Little Giants for Steven Spielberg. He was at DDB Dallas in 1999 when he left to be CCO at WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam’s New York flagship. But Ferguson rejoined the Omnicom Group agency in March as executive creative director and creative consultant in March, only a month after the agency hired former BBDO ecd Michael Patti as New York CEO and worldwide creative director.

Ferguson’s main contribution since March was the creation of a campaign to launch the McGriddles breakfast sandwiches, although he will stay at DDB until after the September brand-campaign launch. A divorced father of two, Ferguson has been a commuter dad since leaving Dallas. “I feel like I missed a lot, and I don’t want to miss any more,” he said.

Scarpelli, who said he will look both internally and externally for Ferguson’s successor, said McDonald’s had been informed of the latest CCO leave-taking and was “supportive.”

Ferguson faces a major challenge in leading Temerlin out of the business wilderness. In 2002, the shop suffered its second consecutive year of revenue declines, with a 16 percent drop from 2001’s level to $59 million, according to sources. Billings shrank 13 percent from 2001 to $470 million in 2002. Although the shop’s roster includes blue-chip brands like American Airlines, Subaru and ExxonMobil, it has had no significant new-business wins in 2003. Still, Ferguson claimed, “I’m not the great, white hope here. Temerlin has great national and regional accounts. Everyone goes through cycles.”

Temerlin president David Lyon said he had been looking for a “partner” since former ecd Eric McClellan left in March. The chairman position has been open since Liener Temerlin became chairman emeritus two years ago. Ferguson will report to Eric Keshin, regional director, North America at Temerlin’s direct report, McCann-Erickson. Sources said CEO Dennis McClain’s contract just expired, and he will stay on as a consultant. He was unavailable for comment.