After eight-and-a-half successful years running FCB Media—and “too long to remember working in media agencies”—managing director Derek Lindsay has decided he’s achieved all he can with the agency and is off to seek some new challenges.
Seeking new challenges is one of this industry’s most-used euphemisms, but, as Lindsay explains, it’s true on his part.
“For me, personally, a lot of it becomes the same thing and therefore you find it less and less of a challenge. There are certain things about working with clients and winning new business that you enjoy, but those things don’t make up your whole day. And eight and a half years is a good haul.”
He says there was more surprise than he thought there would be when he announced his decision to depart today, but he says he’s been planning it for a while.
As for the highlights of his tenure, he says he’s not the type of guy to look at specific events. He looks at them as subsets of a bigger goal. And he feels as though “lots of little things along the way” have led to him achieving that.
“We’ve grown heaps, we’ve done great work, we’ve got lots of awards, we’ve got a great team, many of them who have been here a long time. And I’ve been struggling to set myself those big personal goals … I’m very pleased and proud that’s the case. I think this business is about people and we’ve got an amazing team. I would say that, but I think it’s the best team in the marketplace. And the awards [including Best in Show for four of the last five years at The Beacons and best in show, nine golds and 13 silvers at this year’s awards] show that.”
He says he took over in 2006 from Anna Chitty. FCB had merged with UM after “Glenda Wynyard left it in a mess” and he took over from there. At the time there were around 20 staff. And now, following a recent restructure that saw digital sprinkled across the business, there are around 50.
He says the success of FCB Media is inextricably linked with the success of FCB as a whole, which has risen from the middle of the pack to become one of the country’s best creative agencies, but it has also stood on its own two feet, and, as evidence of that, he says it now has bigger media billings from external clients not attached to FCB than it does from integrated clients.
That’s a very unusual model, he says, and it’s been tricky at times to manage it. But it’s worked really well.
He says there are a number of things he’s looking at doing, including crossing the fence and “working with a media owner in some way, shape or form” (strangely, he refused the offer of a job as a StopPress staff writer), working client side, buying a small business (although there’s no chance of a winery on Waiheke) or working with a smaller agency (OMD? “I don’t know if that would work. There’s just something I can’t put my finger on”).
He’s also hoping to build a house with his wife and OMD chief executive Kath Watson, so that will also take up some time.
“I’m looking forward to next year and saying I don’t know what the day holds. That’s exciting and a bit scary.”
As for a replacement—and whether the agency will be looking externally—he says he has his thoughts on the matter, but he won’t have any say in the decision. He says he will continue in his role for the next three months to ensure a smooth transition, both within the business and with FCB’s clients.
“All I can say is [FCB’s chief executive and global vice chairman] Bryan Crawford will ultimately look at the structure and determine which way to go. But clearly it’s a little bit early to say.”
In a release, Crawford said Lindsay has made a huge impact and improved the quality and breadth of its media offering.
“In addition to being an integral part of the total agency, Derek will leave FCB Media in excellent shape, having led the growth in our media revenue, our media client base and having established an outstanding team.”