Independent agency Wieden + Kennedy announced several changes constituting a new leadership team in its Portland, Ore. headquarters this week.
Effective Oct. 1, co-chief creative officer Colleen DeCourcy and former managing director Tom Blessington will be co-presidents of Adweek’s 2017 Global Agency of the Year. The news marks a return for Blessington, who left last summer to become vp of brand, media and experiences at YouTube. The two will also absorb the COO and CCO titles.
In turn, co-CCO Susan Hoffman and president Dave Luhr will take the positions of chairman alongside founder Dan Wieden. Chief operating officer Neil Christie has also been promoted to CEO in London, with Helen Andrews, Iain Tait and Tony Davidson retaining the managing director title.
This is the first significant leadership change at the agency since Hoffman assumed the co-CCO position last summer. It’s also the largest such shift following the late 2016 restructuring that named 15 new partners at the global network.
“Dan Wieden and David Kennedy started this agency with a unique and long-lasting vision. Those foundational values have provided us with a hunger to construct a future agency even stronger than the one we have enjoyed to date,” said Luhr in a statement.
“It is time to pass the torch to a new generation of visionary leaders to run the agency that I love so much,” he continued, calling DeCourcy and Blessington “two of the strongest creative and business minds I have ever met.” Luhr concluded, “I feel very confident about the future leadership of this agency and fortunate to have such a strong team paving the way for our next chapter of creativity.”
DeCourcy joined W+K in 2014 and made partner 15 months later. She contributed to the agency’s new business efforts and “culturally provocative output,” according to the press release.
“To say I feel a huge responsibility would be an understatement,” DeCourcy said. “We’re just going to continue to follow Dan’s best advice: ‘Loosen up, don’t let the brand get too polished and predictable. It ain’t mathematics, it’s jazz.'”
Before joining YouTube, Blessington spent 27 years at W+K including 11 as managing director of the Portland office. During that time, he led the Nike account in the U.S. and Europe and helped open the agency’s New York and Amsterdam offices.
“Suffice it to say, I didn’t expect to be at YouTube for only a year. It’s an amazing company that I respect and admire greatly,” read Blessington’s own statement, which noted that “it felt right to come home” when Luhr offered up the co-president job.
Luhr himself arrived at W+K in 1986 as account director on Nike, later becoming one of the first partners and managing the Portland office.
Hoffman, the longest-tenured staff member aside from Wieden himself, was employee number eight and has spent the past 35 years helping to shape the shop, serving as ecd in offices from London to Delhi and working on accounts such as Old Spice, Chrysler, Target and P&G. Last year, she was inducted into the The One Club Creative Hall of Fame; this year, she will accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Clio Awards.
“I am incredibly spoiled to have grown up at an agency that always put people and creativity first,” she said. “It’s important to me that it stay this way, that we forever fight for what’s best for the work.”