James McGrath moves into part-time creative director at-large role at Clems

Clemenger BBDO Melbourne’s creative chairman, James McGrath is to step back from this role, moving into a part-time role across the Clemenger Group.

There will not be a direct replacement for McGrath, with ECD’s Jim Curtis, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Rich Williams leading the agency’s creative output. 

After 14 years with the agency, McGrath is stepping into new role positioning him as a support and mentor across the group’s creative leaders in both Australia and New Zealand, on the newly formed Creative Board.

James McGrath

McGrath said: “With thanks to the deep inter-generational creative culture of Clemenger, I have never underestimated the power of creativity to solve the greatest of problems and the inspired individuals whose orbit we have the good fortune to be in. We all have much to look forward to.”

The board will be chaired by McGrath, and will include chief creative officers and executive creative directors across the Group’s agencies, including CHE Proximity, both Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and Sydney, Colenso BBDO and Clemenger Wellington. Its role will be to develop “the Group’s creative product” and continue to further the Group’s commitment to creativity.

Clemenger Group executive chairman, Robert Morgan said that McGrath is one of the “all-time great creative leaders”, and someone who is respected by his peers locally and abroad.

Four ‘N’ Twenty’s Magic Salad Plate

“He’s been a stalwart of one of Australia’s most brilliant creative companies for over 14 years, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s chosen to continue his journey with us. Our creative product and our creative leaders will be all the better for it.”

The decision for McGrath to step down comes just one month after the agency lost NAB as a client, with the financial institution moving its creative account across town to TBWA Melbourne. This ended a 15 year working relationship.

During McGrath’s time at as creative chairman at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, the agency worked on a number of the highly recognisable campaigns, including Four ‘N’ Twenty’s ‘Magic Salad Plate’, NAB’s ‘Break Up, Carlton Draught’s ‘Slow Mo, TAC’s ‘Meet Graham‘, and Airbnb’s ‘Until we all Belong’. The agency was also awarded Creative Agency of the Decade by Mumbrella.

This work also led the agency to being recognised locally and abroad, with key achievements including multiple Agency of the Decade awards, a coveted D&AD Black Pencil and the agency being named Cannes Lions Agency of the Year.


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