It was announced a couple of months ago that DDB NZ's creative sage Toby Talbot was leaving to take up a role within the DDB Network based in London where he would be working on global clients like Volkswagen and McDonald’s and doing a creative MBA. Everyone was assured it was a short-term thing and he'd be back to take up his position after his year-long overseas sabbatical. But he's "made the most difficult decision of his business life" and instead made a clean break from the DDB Network to take up a role as executive creative director with one of the UK's top agencies, RKCR/Y&R.
Talbot says it feels counter-intuitive to leave the network, but he puts the recent change of heart entirely down to family. In the role he was given with DDB he would be the European regional creative commander and also maintain a similar role in the Asia Pacific region, which meant he would flitting about all over the place. And, with his parents getting older and the kids being moved over to go to school, he says he needed to be in London.
He admits the info about his plans to stay with DDB may have been released slightly hastily and we've heard a few rumours that a couple of DDB's clients are unhappy about the switcheroo. But he says he doesn't feel bad about leaving because the agency is in rude good health at the moment and he is confident the creative reins will be handled more than ably by his replacement Andy Fackrell and the new creative director Chris Schofield AKA 'Not Steve Kane'. He is also confident some of the work coming out next year is some of the best they've done.
In part, this attitude may be attributable to the importance of the role of executive creative director to the fortunes of clients. Word is Talbot pretty much won the Cadbury pitch last year after coming up with the idea for The Sound of Joy and, as he says, ever since the days of Bill Bernbach, DDB has believed creativity is the most powerful business force there is, which means who's at the top is an important consideration for clients.
Long term, he sticks by his statements about wanting to come back to New Zealand, where he has lived for 15 years, and he hopes the first guys he'll see about a job when he returns will be Sandy Moore and Marty O'Halloran, who Talbot says have been very gracious about his decision.
"This is my home and the kids are coming back for university," he says. But at the same time he doesn't want his new employers to think he'll be a fly-by-nighter and he "wants to make a good go of it" in the very tough London market where he first cut his advertising teeth.
Talbot leaves on January 4 and he replaces Damon Collins.
He will oversee the RKCR/Y&R creative department, working closely with Mark Roalfe, the agency’s chairman, as well as Alison Hoad and Ben Kay, the recently appointed joint chief executives.
"We scoured the globe for the very best creative talent and were really excited to find Toby," says Roalfe. "The standard of the work he has led at DDB is fantastic, but most of all he is a very charming and down to earth chap."
And we couldn't agree more.