M&C Saatchi duo joins Dentsu Creative as first chief creative officers

Just one day after the news of their departure from M&C Saatchi Sydney, creative team Avish Gordhan and Mandie van der Merwe have been appointed as Dentsu Creative Australia’s first chief creative officers.

They are the latest to join Dentsu’s newly consolidated creative offering, unveiled at the holding group level at this year’s Cannes Lions, and will report directly to Dentsu Creative Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) CEO, Kirsty Muddle.

Gorhan and van der Merwe will commence their roles as joint chief creative officers in October, joining a growing leadership lineup that includes executive creative directors, Sarah McGregor, Anne Boothroyd and Marcus Tesoriero, chief client officer, Gayle While, chief PR officer, Tim Powell and chief strategy officer, David Halter.

The pair brings more than two decades of global experience to Dentsu Creative, having spent the past four years as joint executive creative directors at M&C Saatchi Sydney following a stint as freelancers. Gordhan and van der Merwe previously worked at Cummins&Partners, alongside Muddle, who last year departed the agency to take on the CEO remit at Dentsu Creative Group. Prior to Cummins&Partners, the pair worked at TBWA as copywriter and art director, respectively.

Van der Merwe has also served two terms as national head of AWARD School, while Gorhan is a founder of #OnlyOneInTheRoom, launched to achieve a more culturally diverse and inclusive advertising industry.

Of the appointment, Muddle said: “Mandie & Avish shape what’s now and what’s next. They’re born leaders with deeply held beliefs that drive their behaviours. They want to do work that has never been done before, stuff that shapes society, creates culture and invents the future. They also can see things from all angles, be it CXM, Earned Attention, Entertainment or Media, and have the credentials that prove it. They’ve invested heavily into the growth and development of the industry and the people in it. It’s a great example of Sanpo Yoshi, our foundational belief.”

Fred Levron, Dentsu Creative global chief creative officer, said: “Clients are looking to differentiate their brands in new and meaningful ways. To help them achieve this and navigate the modern world our creative leadership needs to embody all the principles of Modern Creativity, able to deliver ideas that are big enough to live anywhere, bold enough to chart new executional territory and rich enough to connect personally with millions. Avish and Mandie are exactly that. I’m thrilled to see them joining our Dentsu Creative Australian Team.”

van der Merwe, said: “I’m truly honoured to lead the creative offering and be part of this incredible team. It took just one chat with Kirsty and Fred and we were hooked. An agency that centralises creativity and puts it at the heart of everything is a pretty difficult thing to ignore as a creative being.”

Gordhan added they were: “very grateful for the opportunity M&C Saatchi gave us and are really proud of the team we helped build. At the same time, it is hard not to feel a bit giddy by the possibilities of Dentsu Creative and the agency’s vision of building brands through entertainment, culture and content. And the chance to be part of Dentsu’s Indigenous social change agency, Cox Inall Ridgeway, and learn about the oldest living culture’s approach to creative thinking, is really exciting.”


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