Valentine Radford Looks Ahead

ECD Bob Simon Out as Agency Contemplates Integrated Future
CHICAGO–A shift in business strategy at Valentine Radford prompted the departure of executive creative director Bob Simon, agency officials said.
Over the past year, the Kansas City, Mo., shop has been beefing up its interactive division, with the aim of integrating it into the overall agency, said chief executive officer Chuck Curtis. Simon’s talents did not mesh with the agency’s vision, he said.
“We’re moving to a much more integrated product and that’s calling for a greater skill set than creative directors have traditionally had,” Curtis said.
Attempts to reach Simon for comment were not successful.
The shop plans to take the integration process “real slow” to get it right, Curtis said. “I’m going to have to do some pretty serious planning to pull it off,” he said.
Replacing Simon as executive creative director is Bill Ost, a 10-year veteran of the agency.
Ost has a “readier acceptance” of the agency’s business plans, Curtis said. “He’s been able to cross the lines” between departments, Curtis said.
Simon gave up freelance work in Chicago to join Valentine Radford in 1995. Prior to freelancing, Simon was a senior vice president and group creative director at what was then Foote, Cone & Belding (now FCB Worldwide) in Chicago, working for clients such as Adolph Coors Co., Citibank and Cadbury Beverages.
Over the past three years, the $150 million agency has experienced paltry business growth, increasing its billings only 11 percent since 1997. While Curtis said he was “frustrated and unhappy” with the stagnant bottom line, he said Simon was “not a direct casualty” of those numbers.
Curtis said he hopes to turn things around by focusing more on interactive and direct marketing business while holding on to traditional advertising clients, which include Bayer agricultural products, Sprint Yellow Pages and National Pizza Company, a Pizza Hut franchise group.
Over the past year, the agency has nearly doubled its interactive staff and created Web-site content for clients such as Farmland Foods, Balducci’s Foods and GMAC’s Better Homes and Gardens real estate division. K