DDB looks to the future, snares Justin Mowday as MD

The advertising Lazy Susan continues to spin. And there’s been another big switcheroo: Justin Mowday has swapped his managing director cap at DraftFCB for a snazzy new one at DDB.

In the newly created managing director position, Mowday will report to DDB Group chief executive Sandy Moore and be close to the “right hand of God” aka executive creative director Toby Talbot. He will take responsibility for leading the advertising agency’s business performance and key client relationships.

An international search was conducted for the role, but Moore says Mowday, who started his advertising career in 1995 in media at Saatchi & Saatchi, worked in London as strategist at The Ingram Partnership, started at DraftFCB in 2005 and worked as managing director for two years, ended up being the right candidate.

Moore says DDB has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years, with 2009 the agency’s most successful year ever. And with quotes like an “investment in our future” and the R-word being thrown around in respect of the 62-year-old Moore (the DDB folks are at pains to point out there’s absolutely no talk of his imminent retirement), the hiring of Mowday appears to be an attempt to fortify the management ranks (which are already fairly strong with Moore and DDB Aus/NZ chairman and chief exec Marty O’Halloran) in preparation for some baton passing when the time comes.

“Today we have many more staff than we did five years ago, and our business has grown dramatically in the last three years,” Moore says. “Justin impressed with his track record at DraftFCB. We believe he has the right nous to lead the DDB agency into the future and capitalise on the current business and creative strength we now have.”

DDB, which won 2010 Agency of the Year from both Campaign Brief and the NBR, is on a bit of a roll at present. And with some great talent and an impressive client list, Mowday is, not surprisingly, fairly happy with the new posting.

“DDB is one of the world’s most successful agency networks and DDB New Zealand is a shining light within that. Their performance has been phenomenal . . . The last five years at DraftFCB have been an amazing time, helping grow the agency both in size and reputation and working with a range of brilliant clients and staff alike. It’s time for a change and the opportunity to lead the team at DDB was too good to turn down.”

Mowday says it’s “sort of bizarre” moving from DraftFCB, which won the Fairfax AdMedia agency of the year and is also near the top of its game. It had to “take the foot off the pedal” last year after a host of big account wins, although he says the agency was never really on a pitch ban. It was more an acknowledgement that it needed to do the best for its existing clients. And while he’s loved his time at Draft, he says the DDB offering was very attractive and it was time for a fresh challenge. Also, in terms of global networks, he doesn’t think anyone would argue that Omnicom is a far better holding company.

He says DDB approached him and while it is a larger international network he doesn’t have any global aspirations at this stage.

“I’m not interested in going overseas. I’ve got a young family so I’m pretty committed to New Zealand.”

Mowday will take up the role in the second half of this year, after fulfilling his commitment to the DraftFCB board, staff and clients. DraftFCB chief executive Bryan Crawford was unable to be reached, so no word yet a replacement has been found. Although Mowday says the agency has conducted a local and international search and “they will have some news imminently”.

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