WPP Taps Global Creative Chief

NEW YORK WPP Group today said it has named John O’Keeffe worldwide creative director, reporting to CEO Martin Sorrell and overseeing activities across the holding company’s many agencies and disciplines “to help raise standards” overall.

Before taking on the new role, O’Keeffe, 45, had been ecd at Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s office in London, where WPP is also based.

Sorrell said in a statement: “John is a unique talent in our industry. He will accelerate this process and help us ensure that creative capabilities and resources are at the heart of what we do. Like Jon Steel in the planning area, he will lead our creative communities to even greater heights.”

WPP’s last worldwide cd, Neil French, resigned in late 2005 after making disparaging remarks about women at an industry event in Toronto. French was part-time, however, and O’Keeffe will be full-time.

After French’s exit, Ogilvy & Mather worldwide cd Robyn Putter took on the additional (part-time) role of worldwide creative head for the holding company. In that capacity, he launched an internal program for recognizing outstanding work known as the WPPED Cream awards.

O’Keeffe has spent nearly 18 years at BBH, including the past eight as ecd, and WPP praised his guidance of the network’s award-wining work and its rising income and profits during his tenure.

“I have enjoyed every moment of my time at BBH. It’s a special place full of very smart people. I thought I’d never leave,” O’Keeffe said. “But the opportunity outlined by Martin was simply too exciting to turn down.”

BBH has named Nick Gill, a cd at the agency, to fill O’Keeffe’s post, an agency representative said. Gill works on clients such as Vodafone, Perfetti Van Melle and Barnardo’s.

BBH also promoted cd Rosie Arnold to deputy ecd under Gill. More than 60 staffers work in the office’s creative department and Gill was one of about 13 cds.

“I’d like to thank John for all the great things he has done for BBH and wish him well in his new role,” said BBH worldwide cd John Hegarty, in a statement. “At the same time, I’m very excited that Nick, with Rosie as his deputy, will be running our creative department in London. It’s great to have exceptional talent like this already in our agency.”

O’Keeffe began his ad career at Saatchi & Saatchi 25 years ago, working on various accounts including British Airways. He joined BBH in 1990.