Opportunity Knocks

Ad Age takes an accusatory tone in an article about top level creatives leaving one shop for another.

McGarryBowen has been stealing Walt Disney Co.’s theme-parks creative work away from Leo Burnett, and now it’s swiping some of Burnett’s Disney creatives as well.
The independent New York-based agency has hired Ned Crowley and Jonathan Moore as executive creative directors. The two held similar positions at Chicago-based Burnett, where they worked on a wide swath of accounts including Disney and Hallmark Cards.
“There are few people in this business who know how to tell a story with heart and a smile,” Gordon Bowen, chief creative officer of McGarryBowen, said in a statement. “They will be a huge asset for this agency, and I can’t wait for our clients to see the results.”

Do agency personnel actually belong to the agency that employs them? I think not.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. The big question will be what kind of non-compete agreements Crowly and Moore signed.
    Burnett’s high-level creatives have, in the past, signed one-year, non-compete agreements that say they not only won’t work for any agency pieces of business, but also any in-town agencies. People at EURO RSCG say Postaer had to postpone his start at Euro RSCG by several months.
    If McGarryBowen attempts to say they can hire Crowly and Moore because they’re a New York shop, it may delay their establishing any serious roots in Chicago (i.e. an office in which the two can work) until 2008. I’m sure the lawyers are already filling out the invoices to come.

  2. Do agency personnel actually belong to the agency that employes them?
    i’m guessing disney thinks not.
    and what are burnett going to do. sue disney? sue mcgarrybowen? they blew it. it’s over. move on.

  3. well, it’s not a story without drama.
    Shoot, creatives need to move just in order to bask in the warm glow of employer admiration again. Even if it only lasts five minutes. After that five minutes is up, you’re shit again until your first big win – in which case you get another two minutes.

  4. I agree with you, Todd. I think it’s rediculous that agencies have employees sign non-compete agreements.
    What can Burnett do? They can wrap the creatives in cour and put the hiring agency in a situation where it’s key players are distracted by legal proceedings. From what I’ve heard, there are often hefty stock options that can also be held back, costing the former employees tens of thousands of dollars.
    I was asked to sign one of these after being at an agency for several years. An attorney friend told the agreement wasn’t legally binding – unless I signed it – and suggested I say “no”. But a good friend in the agency HR department told me upper management kept list of people who didn’t sign, and those people would be earmarked for layoffs. It’s a nasty practice.