DDB Australia CEO Chris Brown set to ‘blaze new trails’ as he accepts CEO and president role of DDB New York



DDB Australia CEO Chris Brown has accepted the CEO and president role with the network’s New York office, as suggested by Mumbrella last week.

Andrew Little, DDB Australia managing director, is set to step into Brown’s role upon his departure for the US in September.

“It was impossible to turn down the opportunity to run DDB New York, where DDB was founded, the spiritual home of the network,” Brown said speaking to Mumbrella on the official announcement of his departure.

“And as a grad who joined DDB in London, the opportunity to go to that office, I’m very humbled and privileged to be given that opportunity. All though I leave Australia with some respects a heavy heart, I’m very, very excited about the opportunity to move to New York.”

DDB was founded by Bill Bernbach, Ned Doyle and Mac Dane in 1949.

While Brown was reticent to comment or speculate on the New York office before assuming his new role, he said: “It’s a really good office, they have really good clients, just did really well in Cannes. There’s a really good culture and there’s an appetite to do even better, so it’s a great brief for me coming in.

“I was talking to some of the guys in the US and one of the great quotes from Bill Bernbach that I really liked, when he resigned from Grey when he was setting up DDB he talked about blazing new trails. My new ambition is to blaze new trails collectively with the team in New York, collectively achieving new things.”

Brown joined DDB Sydney in November 2002 following a stint with the agency in London as business director. In 2007, he was made Sydney managing director and finally CEO in 2012.

Earlier this month DDB was named Mumbrella’s APAC regional creative network of the year.

“When I came to Australia 12 years ago, I never thought I’d be here for 12 years. I came down because I thought it would be a brilliant opportunity and I was interested in exploring different industries and different countries.

“I see this move as an opportunity to test myself in a different market and take what I’ve learnt here and what’s great about the Australian industry, embrace New York and the challenges and opportunities that exist there, and it’s a great time to do that.

“I’ve been very lucky to work with some great people, both client and agency side and I’m just very grateful for the opportunity Marty [O’Halloran, chairman DDB Group Australia and New Zealand] gave to me.  It’s a great testament to DDB that they are willing to invest in people that are young and who show potential. It’s one of the great things about our network that we identify, nurture and then celebrate that talent.

“I’m also really proud of the fact that we diversified our offering.

maccas“It was relatively early on in my tenure running the Sydney group we recognised that we would have a massive competitive advantage if we were able to to truly create a holistic communications group that was able to build teams tailored around our clients needs delivering multi-channel creative solutions.

“McDonald’s Australia Day is an example of a really integrated campaign that utilised PR, social, advertising, activation. It delivered great results for the client, it just won a Lion for effectiveness and it won a gold last year at Cannes for creativity.”

Brown said the model of the DDB Group is another source of pride.

“Within the DDB Group, DDB has always been a creative powerhouse, but Mango has been a fantastic business. We’ve spent a lot of effort in our RAPP business, new leadership in Sydney. We rebranded one of our businesses in Melbourne and RAPP’s doing really well now and having a brand business at the heart of data is critically important. And then our Tribal business, we brought in new leadership in both Sydney and Melbourne, and Tribal is a brand that’s really well positioned to drive the agenda from a technology perspective. Across creativity, data and technology the business is really well set up for success.”

The DDB Group boasts a varied list of clients, including Telstra, Westpac, Devondale, Tourism Victoria, McDonald’s and Volkswagen, a list Brown said he was been “very fortunate” to work with.

“I’ve loved working in Australia for a number of reasons but a big part of that is the clients I’ve worked with,” he said.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work with some outstanding clients who truly value partnership and recognise the importance of creating an environment for the agency to do really well. Telstra’s a really good example of that.

“The agency-client partnership is an increasingly important ingredient into both the effectiveness of the work but also the enjoyment of the relationship. Clients who create an environment where agency teams are really inspired to work on their teams, on their business, get the best work.

“The clients also are looking for agencies to provide an objective point of view on their business and be proactive and sometimes be provocative and that has to come from a level of trust where the agency has built that credibility over time to be able to give that point of view and perspective.

“There’s a seamless transition with Andrew, he’s well known to our client base so there’s no disruption really in the grand scheme of things and I think people are genuinely happy and pleased that someone from Australia is going off to New York to run one of the flagship offices.”

Miranda Ward


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