Is the CCO dead? JWT reveals new creative model after axing global role

The Inspiration Council and Futures Council will bring greater diversity to the agency's creative work, says CEO Tamara Ingram.

You may recall, back in March, JWT saying goodbye to its global chief creative officer, Matt Eastwood, after he served five years at the department’s helm.

He was never replaced, and won’t be, because the role is dead to the agency.

Worldwide CEO Tamara Ingram is ushering in a new dawn of creative power at the WPP shop which is still clambering its way out of a negative spotlight in the wake of a years-long sexual harassment lawsuit (finally settled in April).

Ingram and co have completely redesigned the agency model by implementing an Inspiration Council in lieu of a global CCO. It’ll be led by Ricardo John, JWT CCO for Brazil and South Latin America. His team is made up of people from the agency’s talent incubation program, JumpStart, which encourages those with alternative skills (like engineers, architects and musicians) to work as creatives.

"This council is about unleashing the imaginations of these thinkers into our creative world," Ingram told Campaign US. "It is about encouraging a collision of ideas and inspiring the whole agency. It is about recency, relevancy and driving culture. It is about the application of the triangulation of humanity, creativity and technology that generates stand-out work and experiences."

The team will be supported by a Futures Council, led by Bas Korsten out of Amsterdam, where he is creative partner. He’s tasked with aggregating a group of between seven and 10 voices across the network with a goal of ensuring JWT is strategically prepared with whatever talent and partnerships it needs to go forward.

The mix of talent -- from data science and creative technology, to strategy and user experience -- will work with universities and technology firms to feed the Inspiration Council with knowledge to find the right solutions to solving clients’ business problems.

"The Futures Council will focus on how creativity will transform in the years to come, what is going to be the role of technology in boosting creativity, how can we use A.I. to free up human creativity and we will explore how we can use neuro-science to increase human ingenuity," explained Ingram.

"In a sense, the Futures Council will imagine the future of creativity and the Inspiration Council will apply it. Both councils will form a new generation of leaders that will redefine creativity and activate it in an entirely new way. But perhaps most importantly, they will establish to our clients, potential clients and the industry at large, the value of creativity from J Walter Thompson."

The councils have been built and are being implemented now. Both councils will meet three times a year. Leaders John and Korsten will maintain their current roles.

Ingram stressed the importance of fluidity so different people can contribute to the creative process.

The singular global CCO role has been elimatined from JWT. But that doesn’t mean other CCO positions are at risk -- quite the opposite.

Ingram said: "Don’t mistake that for not valuing creativity as our most important asset. That’s why we also have chosen to have two leaders instead of one who still work with clients in their respective markets and are close to the day-to-day business. The regional CCO is still a very important office and we see this role as the individual who provides vision and inspiration over their local offices as well as serves as the talent magnet and ombudsman for participation on the councils."

It's a vision that feeds into the industry desire for greater diversity.

"The kind of work we need to do in order to reimagine the future for our clients demands a more diverse type of talent in terms of skills, gender and culture," the CEO added. "These councils will ensure that the very strongest specialists and diverse levels of creativity will be actively collaborating on the most pertinent projects, thus maximizing the capabilities of our talent for their gain.

"With the installation of these councils, we are moving away from judgement, and more toward making and doing. In the end, this is about work that drives culture and behavioral change for our clients."