WPP’s Geometry Global has named Jim Carlton to the role of chief creative officer North America. The job was previously held by Bruce Henderson, who left in September.
Carlton, who will begin February 1st, was previously managing creative director at Publicis Groupe’s Arc Worldwide, the brand activation unit of the Leo Burnett Group. Though he began his career as a graphic designer at Young & Rubicam in New York, Carlton entered the shopper marketing business more than 20 years ago when he joined Frankel, which later became Arc.
Having worked alongside Leo Burnett creatives since the agency merged with Arc in 2007, Carlton said he is ready to lead a shopper marketing team that treats brands and consumers "with the respect they deserve" rather than "yelling at them" — a common criticism of traditional shopper marketing.
"Moving into the Leo Burnett building and getting exposed to more traditional brand creative storytelling had a huge impact on me," said Carlton. "And the last three and a half years that I’ve been running creative for Arc, I’ve been getting my Master’s in brand and shopper and retail and activation. I’m just ready to take it to the next level."
"I feel like I’ve been training for this my whole career," he said.
A spokeswoman for Arc said no replacement for Carlton had yet been found.
Carlton has some big shoes to fill at Geometry. Henderson was creative lead when WPP G2, OgilvyAction and JWTAction were merged to form Geometry last June. Henderson was also known for his unusual career path and prolific artistic output; he has recorded a well-received rock album, write several books and scripted shows for VH1 and the Disney Channel.
When Henderson left Geometry, he initially indicated he was planning to pursue personal passions, including writing another book. But shortly afterwards he arrived as CCO at Jack Morton, a brand experience agency under the Interpublic Group umbrella.
In September 2014, Geometry appointed Jon Hamm to the newly created role of global chief creative officer. Carlton will work closely with Hamm but report to North American CEO Carl Hartman, he said.
Carlton is "a unique blend of a world-class, inspirational creative thinker and a savvy businessman who understands intimately how to sell our clients’ products and services," said Hartman in a statement. "There aren’t many creatives out there like Jim."
Since being named the lead creative at Arc in 2012, Carlton has overseen a rapid expansion of the firm around the globe, including new offices in India, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Shopper marketing itself has been expanding as a discipline in recent years as better targeting techniques and a stronger focus on creative has transformed its profile with clients.
"Jim has helped transform Arc into the strong activation agency it is today and built a solid foundation for continued success," said Leo Burnett North America CEO Rich Stoddard in a statement. "We will work quickly and aggressively to identify a new creative leader to fill this important role. Jim has been a part of our agency for nearly 20 years. He's family and we wish him well in his new endeavor."