‘Creative Icon’ Vicki Maguire Takes the CCO Reins at Havas London

Outspoken, collaborative creative leader was at Grey London for 10 years

Vicki Maguire (r), Havas London's new CCO, with Xavier Rees, the agency's CEO. - Credit by Havas London
Headshot of Doug Zanger

Vicki Maguire, who has established herself as one of the industry’s most high-profile creative leaders, has joined Havas London as chief creative officer, the same role she is leaving at Grey London.

“We’ve been holding out for someone special, and we finally founder her,” said Xavier Rees, CEO of Havas London. “The minute I met Vix, something just clicked. She’s a creative icon, and the fact that she’s chosen to join Havas London speaks volumes for what we’re building here.”

According to Maguire, the feeling is mutual.

“I went to breakfast with Xavier in Cannes—and I went because I love breakfast,” quipped Maguire, long known for her sense of humor. She liked what she heard. “[But] I thought that I shouldn’t be feeling this way about going to a network agency.”

Extremely appreciative of her time at Grey, she said that after a decade, she was getting “a little look-around-y” and began exploring the idea of starting her own creative agency, like “Joan or Gut.” Yet she continued to be intrigued about the possibilities at Havas. Interestingly, she determined that one critical component, similar to what built her success at Grey, was in place at Havas.

“I discovered a crew,” she said. “That’s the one thing I have learned over the past 10 years at Grey London. When I joined Grey, I met Nils [Leonard], David Patton and so many other people that I was having a laugh with. The more people Xavier put in front of me like Jen Black [Havas London managing director], the more interesting it felt.”

Creatively, Maguire, who started in the fashion industry (before discovering she couldn’t draw and ending up in advertising), has been part of many award-winning teams. Standout work during her tenure includes Cannes Lions-winning The People’s Seat for the United Nations and Marks & Spencer’s viral Paddington Bear Christmas ad.

But she may be best known for The British Heart Foundation’s hands-only CPR campaign Hard & Fast with former soccer star Vinnie Jones. Though it was highly lauded work, Maguire never lost sight of its real significance and the team at Grey that made it happen.

“The awards are great, but the work saved lives. Meeting the people whose lives we saved was immense,” she said. “And sitting in a room trying to crack a brief with people coming in asking, ‘Do you want a hand with this, mate?’ is lovely.”

According to Laura Jordan Bambach, founder and chief creative officer at Mr. President in London, that sense of community is one of several things that illustrates Maguire’s leadership and impact in the market.

“She came in and made Grey her own,” Bambach said. “It’s been really admirable through her hard work, tenacity and faithfulness to her creative vision.

“I know she’ll [lead Havas London] in a collaborative way, that brings people along with her and makes them feel valued.”

Once she joins the agency in January 2020, Maguire plans to bring her formula for success at Grey to Havas London.

“It doesn’t matter what moment we’re in—short-term or long-term—it’s vital to make a dent in culture by any means necessary,” she said.

Acknowledging that she believes a strong team is in place, Maguire also intends to bring a signature style to Havas through new talent.

“I don’t want to get in the way of the talent I draw in,” she said. “Everybody that works with me knows that we have a contract, which is: I don’t care where you do it. I don’t care how you do it. I just want you to bring [the work] when I need it.

“And then my deal with them is that I will do whatever I can in my power to get your work out, and then culture and let it fly. If you’re an introvert, I have a corner. If you’re an extrovert, I have a stage. I will find a space for you to do your most brilliant and best.”

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.