Is DDB Chicago In Turmoil?

He loves anonymous sources, speculation and rumors, but still, Lewis Lazare’s column is always a good read. Such as today’s focus on DDB’s Chicago office.

Sources say that some of the agency’s best creatives have called the decision to put Tilley in the top creative post the equivalent of “the last straw.” They are angry because Tilley is perceived by many to lack the skills — and talent — to be the strong creative leader the agency so desperately needs at this moment. Ominously, the displeasure is said to be strongest among various members of the Anheuser-Busch creative teams, who, for better or worse, have been the heart and soul of the agency for a long time.
Most interestingly, it appears many DDB/Chicago staffers, unhappy about the mess all around them, are now increasingly pointing their accusatory fingers squarely at DDB Worldwide Chairman Bob Scarpelli. As one source put it, “Michael Folino [briefly the agency’s chief creative officer] and CEO Dana Anderson didn’t hire themselves.” These staffers reportedly resent the fact that after running (into the ground, some would say) DDB/Chicago’s creative department for a number of years, Scarpelli has now, for all intents and purposes, decamped for New York, where he oversees global creative operations for the DDB network.

It all may sound a bit tawdry, but in an industry so fixated on “superstar” creatives and outsized personalities, columns like this one are fair game–it’s the price of fame. If you’re going to milk Adweek and Creativity for fawning PR, expect the flip side every now and then, too.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. It’s sad. What was once a fairly respected and ambitous creative force just can’t seem to right itself. The leadership left to guide the ship after Scarpelli left has never led anything aside from a few conservative DDB accounts. New ideas and new ways of thinking are clearly needed, yet whenever they import someone, the whole thing blows up and they return to what they know: dumbed-down base humor beer ads (this year, the caveman thinking actually led to a cave man in the spots), and completely boring wallpaper tv spots for pretty much everything else. When Leo Burnett looks like a creative boutique next to DDB, you know this place has some serious problems.