King takes creative reins at Whybin\TBWA, Talbot heads to Oz—UPDATED

Just over a year after he arrived at Whybin\TBWA, Toby Talbot is departing the agency, with ex-M&C Saatchi executive creative director and chief executive Dave King coming on board as the replacement chief creative officer. 

Whybin\TBWA’s business strategy is based around disruption. And chief executive Todd McLeay admits it’s not ideal to have Talbot leave so soon after joining—and so soon after the departure of creative director Steve Kane to take up the managing director role at Y&R—primarily because the rebuilding process takes some time to get into gear and then the productivity gains come after everyone’s settled in. But he says King, who became available after M&C Saatchi announced it was pulling out of this market, is the perfect fit for where he sees the agency going. 

“It’s a unique role we can play because we’ve got a unique combination of things here. And that’s not just blowass,” he says. 

As time goes by, he says more and more brands are realising that the experience consumers have with digital channels often “say more about a brand than what you tell them about it”, which is why the Digital Arts Network and its focus on UX-led digital platforms is so important. And he says King’s direct heritage from time spent at AIM Proximity and elsewhere will be very valuable. 

“We can’t be in the business of creating a narrow range of highly crafted media productions and expecting them alone to do the job for a brand,” he says. “At Whybin\TBWA, we’re moving past optimising media placement to build a business model that optimises content itself. This requires a different way of thinking, which is why Dave is a great fit with our team.”

He sees the change as an opportunity to further enhance that strategy, and he says King is “probably the one person who spans digital, direct and traditional with equal aplomb” and can help do it. 

He says Talbot was “creatively exceptional”, but “what we need is to have a model that relies less on one person and lets all of our people push the boundaries”. And he says King’s proven ability to nurture talent is also very important. 

Talbot says he’s leaving on good terms with McLeay and the rest of the team and while he feels a little bit like he’s “leaving at half-time”, he’s proud of what’s been achieved at the agency since he arrived. 

“As far as I’m concerned my relationship with Todd will always remain positive. I was involved in finding my replacement and Dave was my recommendation. So I’m glad he’s taking over … They’re both from Invercargill. What could possibly go wrong?”

He admits it’s been “a hugely up and down year”, “but on the whole I look at it and see a better bench, a strong culture and a real desire to keep going … It was a rebuilding exercise.”

With the departure of Dave Walden and Andy Blood, there were some big boots to fill but he’s happy about the people that have come board and after the departure of 2degrees, he says new clients like Bell, APN and TradeMe have more than made up for that loss and are also more aligned to the agency’s philosophy (McLeay didn’t want to discuss any new business).

King didn’t want to discuss the M&C Saatchi saga, aside from saying that the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for him given his circumstances and, in a market of this size, it was quite fortunate that Talbot was given the opportunity. 

“I’m pleased for Toby, of course, but I’m more pleased for me,” he says. 

He’s hopeful some of M&C Saatchi’s clients might move across with him to TBWA\ as he’s spent a long time building up good relationships. But “nothing is a given in this industry” and as a lot of them are government clients, like Ministry of Justice, NZ Police and NZ Fire, he says there might be some RFPs involved (as TBWA\ work withs ANZ, Rabobank will presumably be on the hunt). 

Talbot is taking up the role of chief creative officer with the 350-strong DDB Sydney, which sees him return to a network he is very familiar with after his time as executive creative director at DDB NZ.

He says it’s the biggest agency in this part of the world, so it was an opportunity too good to pass up and he’s really excited about the massive challenge of turning it from the biggest into the best.

Like DDB NZ and Australia’s chairman Marty O’Halloran, Talbot plans on commuting from Auckland and he says there is a chance that he will be working alongside the local outpost on some of DDB’s shared clients, although with Damon Stapleton soon to come onboard he says he certainly won’t be stepping on any local toes.  

There is also the chance that he will be working with the man who replaced him at DDB NZ, Andy Fackrell, who took up a regional role based in Sydney that sees him working on some of the network’s big global briefs.  

Here’s the release:

Keith Smith, TBWA President – International, today announced the appointment of Dave King as Chief Creative Officer of Whybin\TBWA New Zealand.

King will join the team in Auckland starting in early July. He replaces Toby Talbot, who is leaving the agency.

King is recognised as one of the most successful, integrated creative leaders in the region, having forged a career that spans digital, direct and above-the-line. In 2007 and 2008, he was named one of the most awarded creative directors in the world by The Won Report, and is consistently one of the most awarded direct and digital creative leaders in Australasia.

In 2011, King was awarded the Irving Wunderman award at the Caples Awards in New York. His work has won more than 30 Caples awards, including a number of Gold awards and the Best in Show award in 2008. King has also won 14 Cannes Lions awards, in additional to many more Australian and New Zealand awards.

“I am delighted that Dave is now in a position to join our growing team in New Zealand at this time,” commented Smith. “He is one of the rare creatives that can move seamlessly between media types and is perfectly suited to lead Whybin\TBWA in it’s push to create brand-aligned content across a broader range of customer channels.”

“Dave has a formidable reputation for developing talent and for producing work that is highly effective,” Smith added. “He is the modern age creative mind – media-neutral, very savvy, and an excellent mentor. He’s the ideal fit for Whybin\TBWA.”

Whybin\TBWA New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Todd McLeay, said he couldn’t wait to start working with Dave because he truly understood the new marketing order.

“We can’t be in the business of creating a narrow range of highly crafted media productions and expecting them alone to do the job for a brand,” said McLeay. “At Whybin\TBWA, we’re moving past optimising media placement to build a business model that optimises content itself. This requires a different way of thinking, which is why Dave is a great fit with our team.”

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