- Friday, Aug. 17, 2007
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- SAN FRANCISCO
David Verhoef found affirmation that he came to the right place--having recently joined Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, as director of integrated production--when he saw a large picture of chief creative officer Roger Camp in the agency entry hall. The photo, put up to honor Camp's victory in the agency ping-pong tournament, was riddled with graffiti by most everyone in the creative department.
"Many creative directors would never allow that to happen," said Verhoef. "Too often this industry is built on fear--management instilling fear in everybody below them. But Roger is different. Proudly displaying his defaced picture shows not only a self- deprecating humor but a quiet confidence. There's no insecurity there and people here feel free to express themselves. Roger loves to stir things up and get everybody going, creating a real esprit de corps."
Not that this was a surprise to Verhoef who worked with Camp some time ago. Verhoef came over to Riney from DDB San Francisco where he served as director of broadcast production for the past year. While he enjoyed his stay at DDB, the opportunity to again team with Camp was too good to pass up. The two first came together in the late 1990s at Cliff Freeman and Partners, New York, and then later at Camp's boutique shop Camp Arbues in San Francisco. At Cliff Freeman, they collaborated on such offbeat yet lauded creative as shooting gerbils out of a cannon for www.Outpost.com, and a bowler tackling her opponent on the alley for FOX Sports.
"Our success at Cliff Freeman in the late '90s came out of the people there," recalled Verhoef. "The cast of creative talent was pretty unbelievable--Roger, Kevin Roddy, Eric Silver, David Angelo, Cliff Freeman, Arthur Bijur. It was the perfect storm of creatives coming together."
In some respects, the positive experience there spoiled Verhoef. "I kind of peaked in my 30s and you just couldn't easily duplicate that great creative environment at another agency so that's why I went freelance."
Verhoef freelanced for some seven years, primarily in the Bay Area, before finally coming back on staff--at DDB last summer. "I missed having a regular team, a group working towards a common goal and the DDB opportunity came at the right time."
Clearly, knowing Camp makes Verhoef's adjustment to a new roost more comfortable. Still he's conscious of not taking a misstep. "It's not like you come into a place like Riney and try to throw your weight around and put a new stamp on everything. I think of the heads of production here over the years and they have been giants in the industry--Deb Martin in the 1980s, Sam Walsh in the '90s. The vibe here is terrific and I don't want to mess with that. Little by little, piece by piece, though, I'll try to influence things.
"We're really going to surprise people with what we have in the works, amazing interactive stuff," continued Verhoef, noting that he has a talented senior integrated producer in Dora Lee who "did fantastic work for Goodby."
When Diane Jackson was named senior VP, executive director of production at DDB Chicago--a post she assumed earlier this week after heading up production at Energy BBDO, Chicago--she heard a lot about having some big shoes to fill, namely those of David Rolfe who recently exited DDB to return to Crispin Porter+Bogusky (CP+B), Miami. But in her mind, she is in fact trying to fill another's shoes--those of Grant Hill who had headed production at the agency for some 20-plus years before being promoted to global production director for DDB Worldwide Communications Group several months ago. Assuming Hill's former position was Rolfe who initially joined DDB Chicago from CP+B in '05 as director of content production.
Jackson noted that Rolfe had only taken over for Hill for some 12 weeks. "So while technically I'm succeeding David," related Jackson, "it's truly Grant who I'm stepping in place of given the imprint he has had here over the decades."
This is Jackson's second tour of duty at DDB. She had an extensive agency pedigree in the U.K. (DMB&B, McCann Erickson), moved to the production company side there and later came stateside where she was exec producer at Chicago production house Manarchy Films from '95 to '97. Next she freelanced for production houses and agencies for three years before Hill lured her to DDB Chicago as exec producer the first time.
"I remember that back then Grant had created something unique in the way production is viewed within an agency," related Jackson. "Producers are creative partners with the creative team and integrated into the creative department on the same floor. I don't think that had really been done before. And it's something that continues here and it's part of the big shoes I have to fill to make sure that we remain true to that working philosophy.
"And that's especially important now in that producers have a greater role in the creative process, being involved with strategy and ideas from the outset and being very much responsible for where those ideas can live, meaning different media platforms."
Being able to delve into multichannel exploration for major brands such as Anheuser-Busch and McDonald's also drew her back to DDB, as did the opportunity to be a true partner with Paul Tilley, managing director/creative for DDB Chicago. "I worked with Paul before and know that there is a mutual respect and that he has a deep appreciation for the role of production."
Jackson feels fortunate in that she had the same kind of progressive creative partnership with executive creative director Marty Orzio at Energy BBDO. "The past four years for me there represented," she said, "a tremendous growth period spanning traditional and nontraditional work."
When the aforementioned Rolfe returned to CP+B, he succeeded Rupert Samuel who left to partner in a brand new agency, Goodness Manufacturing, in Venice, Calif. Samuel is teaming in the new venture with four former CP+B colleagues
As for what prompted the decision to go entrepreneurial, Samuel explained, "You reach a ceiling, a period in your life when you feel the need to go out and try to do something on your own. All of us at Goodness had been at Crispin for a fairly long time. We have all grown together and now coming together in our own venture felt like a natural fit." (For more on Samuel, check out this week's Chat Room column.)
Carol Lombard recently became executive producer and managing director at davidandgoliath (dng), El Segundo, Calif. She brings to her new roost broad-based experience spanning the agency, production and post sides of the business. The latter two include her having been a producer at t minus 30 films and then exec producer at its in-house post arm, followed by a stint as exec producer at the former Superior Assembly Editing Company. And for four-and-a-half years prior to coming aboard dng, Lombard was at Y&R Brands in Irvine, Calif., serving as that shop's senior VP and executive producer.
"I wasn't looking to make a move from Y&R," relates Lombard. "But then dng called and I was drawn to the opportunity by [chairman/chief creative officer] David Angelo. David is so passionate about the creative work that I became excited about becoming part of his vision and helping to advance that vision."
That vision, says Lombard, is simply to turn out the best creative possible for clients across multiple platforms. "The creative culture here is very progressive and I very much wanted to be a part of that. I'm not here to change what's already working well. I see myself as a facilitator to create and shape a soft structure so that the process becomes one where communication flows well among all the departments and creative gets the support it needs to come up with the very best ideas."
Lombard cites dng's digital interactive department as an example. "I'm trying to partner with them in a meaningful way, which means that our partnership is at the outset of any project. As an agency, we need to explore all the media possibilities. The opportunity to work across varied platforms makes this an exciting time, especially at a nimble place like dng."