Sheehan Joins DDB on McDonald’s

Former Hill, Holliday Exec Expected to Bring Focus and Stability
CHICAGO–Bob Scarpelli thinks Mike Sheehan will be a “real difference maker” on his agency’s McDonald’s account.
“I thought he had the right heart and the right mind to work on McDonald’s,” said Scarpelli, vice chairman and chief creative officer at DDB in Chicago. “I think he’s going to be a perfect fit.”
Sheehan, former creative director at Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston, was named executive creative director at DDB Worldwide, focusing his attention on the McDonald’s business.
Sheehan, 38, takes over for John Staffen, whose role had been significantly reduced on the account in recent months [Adweek, June 14]. Staffen will continue to create advertising for McDonald’s, Scarpelli said.
“John is more comfortable doing the work than leading the team,” he said.
Sheehan, who worked on McDonald’s in 1988 as a copy supervisor at Leo Burnett, Chicago, comes to DDB at what many say is a tenuous time for the agency. McDonald’s and the agency are believed to have had meetings to discuss a new strategy to follow the “Did somebody say McDonald’s?” campaign begun by DDB in 1997.
The agency has also seen some creative defections–notably Bob Merlotti, the creative director credited with the tagline, and Staffen’s copywriting partner David Lowe, who left to lead the Burger King account at Ammirati Puris Lintas in New York.
Sheehan, who officially starts at DDB next Monday, said he will approach his new job as “a clean slate,” and that he is not being brought into “save” the account. Though Scarpelli admitted there have been discussions about future strategy, he dismissed rumors that the agency is in trouble on the account.
“We are thinking of where we can go and evolve the campaign, but there isn’t a thought that, ‘Oh, my God, we need a new campaign,'” he said.
Nevertheless, Scarpelli expects Sheehan to bring a measure of stability and focus to the account, much as he did during his three and a half years at Hill, Holliday in a creative department notorious for its high turnover rate. He is best known for creating acclaimed advertising for Dunkin’ Donuts and John Hancock Financial Services.
Sheehan quit Hill, Holliday in May, telling Adweek he was “beat.” He said at the time that he wanted to take the summer off in preparation for his wedding in September and explore freelance writing opportunities and possibly “other facets of the business.”