Topolewski Jumps for D’Arcy

For the second time in a little more than a year, Gary Topolewski has ditched one new job for another at the 11th hour.

After a year at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Topolewski agreed to return to Detroit to work as one of five executive creative directors at Doner. But he never made it to his first day at Doner, which had been delayed from April 23 to May 15. Instead, Topolewski has signed on as chief creative officer at D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich., to replace Robin Weeks, who has left the agency.

Doner chairman Alan Kalter, whose agency had courted Topolewski over five months, was philosophical. “We’re not the first bride he’s left at the altar,” Kalter said.

Topolewski, 43, spent 12 years at FCB, overseeing creative on Chrysler and Jeep, before taking the top creative post at McCann-Erickson A&L in San Francisco in April 2000. Just days before he was to start there, he was wooed to TBWA\C\D by Lee Clow, leading to speculation he was Clow’s heir apparent.

Topolewski at that time said the chance to work with Clow at a preeminent creative shop was too great to pass up.

This time, he said the offer to be a head creative at an agency in the midst of change proved too attractive to ignore.

“There’s such a bigger, huge opportunity as far as what they can do and what they can become, based on the what they have going for them, the brands they have and what they have planned for the future,” Topolewski said.

Topolewski said he plans to “stay put” at D’arcy and doesn’t worry about developing a reputation as flighty, given his 12-year tenure at FCB.

Topolewski started his career at Doner 20 years ago as a junior copywriter. He built his reputation as creative chief on Chrysler and Jeep at FCB, formerly Bozell Worldwide.

At D’Arcy, Topolewski will oversee creative for General Motors’ Cadillac and Pontiac, and partner with COO Stan Fields in running the agency.

Fields said he didn’t consider Topolewski for the top creative post post until he read that the Detroit native was returning home to work at Doner. While Fields said he talked to other candidates, once he realized there was some interest from Topolewski he focused his efforts on him.

Topolewski at Doner would have reported to chief creative John DeCerchio, who said he understood his near-colleague’s decision and remains a friend.