Why Susan Credle is making a new global creative role for Fred Levron

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"I just don't have the bandwidth" to get involved with "creative production," says Credle on the hiring of Levron, former CAA and Ogilvy & Mather ECD.

A little over a year since starting her job at FCB as global chief creative officer, Susan Credle is adding a senior global creative lieutenant to her ranks. Fred Levron, whose career includes award-winning executive creative director tenures at Ogilvy & Mather and CAA Marketing, has joined the agency as worldwide creative partner, tasked with collaborating with the network’s creative leadership to help elevate the work.

The role, a new one at the agency, has been created, said Credle, to help the agency consistently deliver best-in-class creative, "famous work for big brands on scale." It also attempts to solve a classic global creative chief’s dilemma, how to most effectively impact the quality of the work of an entire agency network while operating on a worldwide management level.

"What I realized is I just don’t have the bandwidth to roll up my sleeves and get involved with the actual creative production and the making of" work, said Credle. "We all know that a great idea that is not executed correctly disappears. The craft of what we do is so important."

Levron, based out of Paris, will partner with FCB agencies around the globe and shepherd critical campaign launches throughout the creative development process. The hands-on direction is designed to give individual agencies and assignments the kind of creative attention that can help transform an idea from good to great, but isn’t necessarily possible from the chair of the global creative director.  

Credle, who joined the IPG agency network as global creative chief last January from Leo Burnett in Chicago, where she was U.S. chief creative officer, said global creative leaders like her rely on various methods to positively influence work around the globe, including short-term stints sharing talent. But with agency resources generally stretched thin, borrowing talent from other offices oftentimes doesn’t give projects the full-focused creative dedication required. "We have so much to do, with so few people, that when a big project or big opportunity comes into the agency, sometimes I worry the bench isn’t deep enough to give it the attention it needs," she said.

Levron’s addition in this custom role is an attempt to remedy that anxiety and is an experiment that has already proved positive, said Credle. Levron officially joined the agency last week after working in a freelance capacity with the San Francisco office on a brand initiative for Clorox, a client that returned to the agency after two decades following a review that won FCB global duties on Clorox’s portfolio of cleaning and laundry products. The work from Levron’s first collaborative effort with the agency is expected to launch this summer.

Global creative roles are about creating agency culture and ways of working, said Credle, and where she can be the most influential is  "working on the platform, the big idea," at the strategic stage. "One of the hardest things to do is go in and help an agency in the network from the start to the finish," said Credle. "When you are working on an idea, you really want to be in that idea, not just drop in and drop out."

Fresh off the heels of Levron’s first global creative leadership meeting last week, Credle and Levron said the agency’s top talent has so far embraced the added resource. "In a lot of global networks, when you are a local leader, you can feel the pressure of the network, but very few times do you get the benefit," said Levron.

The additional global creative management layer is intended to spread creative firepower across the network, not impede local management, added Credle. "I felt that if we had a very, very strong, strategic creative that could go into agencies at critical and opportune times, we could get stronger focus on the work at hand," she said. "I also think it’s a great way to take top creative talent and scale it."  

Levron joins FCB after two years as executive creative director at CAA Marketing, where he worked on brands including Diet Coke, Cadillac and Canada Goose, and 11 years at Ogilvy & Mather Paris, most recently as executive director and creative director, where he worked on campaigns including Coca-Cola "Sharing Can" and Google "Same Sex Wedding."

After leaving CAA last summer and contemplating next steps, Levron said his career search "became less about where to go and more about with whom." He had long been a fan of Credle’s, he said, and after meeting and then working together for a few months, they decided to formalize the relationship.

"We have a short list of projects we want to bring from great to amazing," said Levron. There is a "playground" of creative opportunity on big brands around the globe, he added, including Coca-Cola in South Africa, Oreo in Canada, Fiat in Chicago, Nivea in Brazil, Jeep in Argentina and BMW in London. "I can go on and on," he said. "We have more than enough to play with in the next few months and do great work." 

Levron said he’ll partner with local agencies and dig into briefs for as long as it takes to crack them. "If it’s a week, two weeks, three weeks ... I won’t leave before we’ve nailed it," he said. 

The addition of Levron in such a capacity may "feel like a luxury," added Credle, but "as we do this I think we’ll find it is a necessity in a global network to get to great work. I’m thrilled that we’re trying it for the first time."