Tired of Tacos, FCB’s Sellman Heads South to Handle Mattel

SAN FRANCISCO – Neal Sellman, the executive creative director who heads the $111-million Taco Bell account at Foote, Cone & Belding’s Pacific Group here, is expected to move to FCB’s Brentwood, Calif., offices where he will take charge of creative on the estimated $30-million Mattel business, sources said last week.
Sellman, who initiated the request for a transfer about six weeks ago, confirmed the move to FCB/L.A., saying he expects to work on the HotNow business, a new Pepsico fast-food venture currently in test markets. But Sellman, who will make the move with his longtime partner, Howard Casavant, declined to comment on reports he will be assigned to Mattel.
Sellman said both he and the agency remain on good terms with the client and that he requested the change for professional and personal reasons.
‘It’s quite a hellacious workload. In the past four years we’ve made 1,200 Taco Bell commercials,’ said Sellman, whose work schedule has consisted of 12-hour days, seven days a week. ‘I need a new challenge. I’m looking for the opportunity to write about something new other than tacos.’
Though other FCB locations were considered, Sellman said he became set on Los Angeles because his wife Julieta has family there who could help care for his 1-year-old son.
Jack Balousek, president and chief operating officer of FCB, said a search using outside help is underway to find a new creative director to head the Taco Bell account. Meanwhile, Taco Bell has been kept closely informed of the changes.
‘FCB approached us with this idea and we feel comfortable in honoring their decision and their request,’ said Tim Ryan, senior vp of marketing at Taco Bell. ‘Corporately, we’re about change and believe change such as this should be welcomed, not avoided. Change keeps us fresh and invites continued innovation.’
Plans for the transition are expected to be completed in the next 60 to 90 days.
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