“I’m not retiring.” Walden predicts great things

“I’m not hanging around for grim death. It’s time to go,” says David Walden, exiting chief executive of Whybin\TBWA.

Walden sold his shares in the company 12 months ago, sparking speculation he was about to retire. But that’s incorrect says the big man.

“I’ve still got energy and desire. There’s lots I’m planning to do. I’ve been able to pay all my debts and have now cut my ties with Whybin\TBWA, well at least following the handover, and then I have a number of things that I want to do.”

Such as?

“Well, lots of people have approached me over the years but I haven’t been able to take them up because this has been such a hands-on role. I’m going to Africa in April so perhaps after that I’ll see. But officially I have a 12 month handover for Todd [McLeay] and Toby [Talbot],” he says.

Walden says his decision to hang up the spurs was prompted in part by the resignation of Whybin’s creative maestro Andy Blood.

 “I’d already sold my shares and then when Andy resigned I thought, ‘oh well this is a confirmation’. I didn’t think it was right that whoever replaced Andy as creative director would work with me and then I’d resign 12 months later. So I thought, now’s the time.”

StopPress and others had pretty much guessed that Toby Talbot was about to join the show, but Walden’s replacement by Todd McLeay (a former marketing manager turned CEO) took many by surprise. 

Walden says he had a minor role in securing McLeay – but that Talbot and company founder Scott Whybin mostly organised the approach. 

So how will a straight-talking, hard-nosed businessman fill the boots of the industry’s biggest bon vivant?

“Oh well, it will different, but the model has worked well for Draft FCB, with Brian Crawford in charge. On the other hand, we have a strong team and a strong culture of creativity and disruption and both Todd and Talbot have pedigree in that regard.

“But yes it will change. Andy and I have been together for nine years now. It feels right that we’re leaving together. After the disappointment of losing ASB but then winning Tourism New Zealand and ANZ, and the brilliant success of 2 Degrees, it feels like we’re leaving on a high.”

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