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Rich Edelman on hiring Judy John as firm’s first global CCO and the rise of its creative offerings

The Drum 11 Feb 2019 10:00
Judy John (at the 2017 3% Conference) has joined Edelman as global CCO / Bronac McNeill Photography & Film

Edelman has named renowned marketer Judy John as its first-ever global chief creative officer, effective April 29. John, the visionary behind the Always #LikeAGirl global phenomenon, will lead Edelman’s Creative network, made up of more than 600 creatives and planners globally. She will be based in Toronto and report to Richard Edelman, president and chief executive officer of Edelman.

John joins Edelman from Leo Burnett, where she was most recently chief executive officer of Canada and chief creative officer of North America. Since leading for Canada and North America, Leo Burnett Toronto has been honored with nearly every industry award, including an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial; a Titanium, Grand Prix and Glass Lion at the Cannes Lions Festival; and the first-ever Digital Black Pencil at D&AD.

“Judy believes in earned creative that is social by design, fast enough to suit the news cycle and helps to spark movements,” said Edelman. “Our goal isn’t to do traditional advertising because earned creative, which allows consumers to carry the story forward themselves, is the new frontier. We want to lead creative when brands are looking to make societal impact and serve as agents of change.”

Throughout her career, John has garnered honors, including being named Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Marketing Association in 2016, and was named to Business Insider's 30 Most Creative People in Advertising. 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, where she spent nearly 20 years, she worked with Ogilvy, Guerilla TV and Taxi.

A move into ‘earned creative’

Edelman told The Drum that creatives and planners now make up 10% of the company’s workforce. “Also, we really have started to develop very powerful work products. We think it can go from being a kind of market by market thing to being global. It’s clear to me that there’s this fence of brands needing to speak up, whether it’s Gillette, whether it’s Nike with Kaepernick…They’re all taking positions. That suits us to a ‘T’. It’s what we do every day. Also, this idea of brands needing to be agile and fast, as fast as the news cycle. And brands needing to be not just social but socially minded," he said.

He said he and Johns talked about how to get beyond the classic purchase funnel so the most avid of brand fans become advocates. “The way to do that is to have earned creative – something that is aimed at starting movements. ‘Like a Girl’ is like that.” He went on to say that earned creative is not only fast as the news cycle, but also social by design, in that it is shared in the community. It also has an aspiration to change what a brand or company is doing, like it did with CVS Quits, which helped move the brand away from selling cigarettes.

He went on to say that people are increasingly looking at Edelman as a tree. The trunk of the tree is PR – corporate and brand. Edelman gets hired to do PR, but the advantage is that the company has a strong digital branch of 700 people, and now a strong creative branch, at 600 people. Still, he said, 75% of its business is PR.

“Clients are increasingly saying, ‘whoever has the best idea, I’m going with it’. It doesn’t have to be the ad agency. By the way, we’re happy to work with ad agencies.

The Drum is launching a new global awards event to celebrate the innovative and creative thinking in the PR space. The Drum PR Awards will champion the absolute excellence within this sector.

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