Topolewski Flip-Flop

Creative Spurns McCann, Joins TBWA\C\D
LOS ANGELES–Lee Clow’s courtship of Gary Topolewski looked to have fizzled last month when McCann-Erickson/A&L snared the senior creative for a top post. But last week, just four days before he was to join McCann, Topolewski reversed himself, joining TBWA\Chiat\Day as executive creative director.
The longtime creative chief at FCB Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., was said to be swayed by management changes at TBWA\C\D–including the defections of Rob Siltanen, Chuck Bennett and Clay Williams. “We always had a couple of vets here who would’ve made his job a little smaller than what he had at [FCB] or McCann,” said Clow, TBWA chairman and worldwide creative director, who has been pursuing Topolewski for several years.
“I wouldn’t have taken this job if Lee wasn’t there,” Topolewski said. “I’m basically going to help the agency get to a level where there is no question Chiat is the premier creative agency in the world.”
Executives at McCann, San Francisco, said they will begin another search for a chief creative officer.
“We had a deal, and he just decided to back out on his commitment,” said agency representative Stewart Alter. “It’s surprising and regrettable.”
Topolewski will work in Playa del Rey, Calif., teaming with Jerry Gentile, a 12-year veteran of the shop, on accounts including Energizer and Sony PlayStation. He will report directly to Clow.
Clow said Topolewski was not hired specifically to be his successor. “At this point in the agency’s growth, we need a point man,” he said. “I can’t honestly say that he is the [successor]. I’ll say he’s one of the leaders.” –with Justin M. Norton