Edelman goes all in on creativity with first global CCO

The independent giant has hired Leo Burnett's Judy John to lead its creative network.

Over the last two years, Edelman has doubled down on creativity, hiring more than 600 creatives and planners. Now, the agency is furthering its investment even more with the hire of Leo Burnett’s Judy John as its first global chief creative officer.

John, most recently Leo Burnett’s CEO of Canada and chief creative officer of North America, will officially take on the newly created role on April 29. The industry veteran, who is known as the brilliant mind behind the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, will be based in Toronto and report to Richard Edelman, president and CEO of the eponymous shop.

Edelman, who said one of the people who inspired the idea for the creation of the global CCO role was Campaign Global Editor Claire Beale, met with John for the first time this summer in Cannes. "I admire her," Edelman said of John, adding that he’s a big fan of the #LikeAGirl work.

"This is a deeply significant move because it’ll allow us to globalize our creative, make it such that it applies to b-to-b and corporate just as much as to brand. It’s a defining moment for Edelman because we set out on this course - the idea of saying we want t be the lead creative - four years ago, but we wanted to prove it before we said it," added Edelman.

John, he said, is "one of the top four or five people in creative in our business," so her joining Edelman is "a vote of confidence for earned creative."

Despite the push into creative, Edelman has no interest in being labeled as a traditional advertising shop.

"We’re a communications firm with a strength in creative. I don’t want to be seen as a lookalike for an ad agency, and if creative agency implies Droga5, Leo Burnett or JWT, it’s not us for two reasons: The kind of creative we do is different - it’s earned creative - social by design and as fast as the news cycle. And we don’t rely on paid. For us, paid is an accelerator, and for others, it’s the primary."

In addition to her role in #LikeAGirl, John spearheaded initiatives at Leo Burnett for Amazon’s first Super Bowl spot, Samsung’s first global Olympic campaign and Blackberry’s first global effort. Prior to Leo Burnett, John worked at a variety of independent agencies and multinational companies.

Leo Burnett has promoted Lisa Greenberg from senior-VP, creative director and head of art to chief creative officer, joining the Canadian leadership team alongside President Ben Tarr and Chief Strategy Officer Brent Nelsen.

At Leo Burnett, John also led a number of major efforts including Amazon’s first Super Bowl commercial, Samsung’s first global Olympic campaign and Blackberry’s first global campaign. Before joining Leo Burnett, she worked at a mix of independent shops and multinationals.

While Edelman was founded as a PR agency, the shop has evolved over the years to become a full-service shop, including creative and media. On the creative side, Edelman has led campaigns for the likes of HP, Dove, the WNBA, Asics, Sunkist and more.

What else is on the horizon for the agency this year? Edelman said the shop will be diving into more publics affairs work.

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