This Time, CM Fits Hoffman

CHICAGO When chief creative officer John Hurst left Interpublic Group’s Campbell Mithun in June 2002, Jonathan Hoffman was among the first choices for a replacement.

Hoffman began his career at the Minneapolis agency in 1989. His subsequent experience at Leo Burnett working on brands such as Kellogg and Procter & Gamble and co-managing Burnett’s Warsaw office made him a good fit to take over, figured former CM president Les Mouser. But for Hoffman, the time wasn’t right.

When CM called again late last year, however, Hoffman was ready to make the move. A vice-chairman and group creative head at Burnett, he starts as CCO and president at CM on June 1.

Hoffman, 42, said the biggest difference since the inital job offer was the addition of Jack Rooney at CM. Rooney, a former executive with WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather and Miller Brewing, took over as CM president in August and will become CEO when Hoffman arrives. (Mouser, who has been CEO, will take the chairman’s title.) “It’s a business of partners and teams,” Hoffman said. “The day-to-day partnership with Jack—that made the difference for me.”

“He and I connected immediately,” said Rooney, “and that connection never wavered.”

CM, which bills about $1 billion, has been without a chief creative since Hurst left. The department had been led by deputy creative officers George Halvorson and Rick Gibson along with New York-based ecd Jim Bosha. Hoffman said he’s prepared to do the work necessary to win both long-time staffers and clients. He said, “It’s incumbent upon me to prove to them, not upon them to prove to me, that I can work well within that culture.”

Away from work, he is kept busy by his three children, the youngest being 5-month-old Jasper, whose name will be added to Hoffman’s extensive tattoo collection.