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Creatives start fightback against the bean counters

Paul Brazier's decision to stand aside and take on a chief creative officer and chairman role at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO came a little too late to save Thiago de Moraes. The head of creative innovation quit for Droga5 in September, having found that his head was bumping along a glass ceiling etched with an intaglio of Brazier.

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But its subsequent apparent removal has paved the way for Alex Grieve and Adrian Rossi, the talented creatives responsible for some of AMV’s finest ads of recent years, to step up at the agency. They now find themselves occupying large shoes only previously worn by Peter Souter and David Abbott himself.

AMV is keen to stress that this isn’t a case of Brazier being booted upstairs into a network job. Rather, the agency claims that the move will allow him to unleash his creative talents away from the day-to-day running of the department, while providing his successors with headroom.

In short, it seems an entirely satisfactory way to keep both Grieve and Rossi (who have a broader range of experience, particularly in the digital space, than the inevitably more classically trained Brazier) happy and Brazier fully engaged in the business, even if it was too late to keep de Moraes within the fold. A classic bit of AMV succession planning, which has been successfully implemented. It may have been that the departure of de Moraes helped to focus minds.

The moves at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO seem to be a tacit acknowledgment of the importance of creativity

And, on a macro level, it also seems to be a tacit acknowledgment of the importance of creativity at AMV and hopefully within the broader industry. After all, many client companies and agencies already have chief technology and chief innovation officers (as well as, of course, chief executives), so why shouldn’t creativity be afforded the same elevation and level of corporate respect? That’s what Ian Pearman, the agency’s chief executive, thinks anyway. Either way, it should hopefully provide Brazier with greater heft on the international stage given that the chief creative officer role is one that has become commonplace, particularly in the US – and, for AMV, that can only be advantageous.

The optimist in me also says that this is justification for hope in an age when voices that have quietly and consistently moaned about the malign influence of the bean counters and the procurement specialists on the advertising industry have now turned into a resounding shout.

Creativity has never been more important given the number of opportunities across multiple channels beyond the traditional ad that clients are now demanding and that agencies are trying to fulfil. Anything that elevates the discipline to reflect this is extremely welcome.

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