Vote of con­fi­dence

Draft­FCB chief Neil van der Weele goes global

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & Technology - TONY KOENDERMAN tonyk@fin­

SOUTH AFRICAN AD­VER­TIS­ING re­ceived an­other in­ter­na­tional vote of con­fi­dence with the ap­point­ment of Draft­FCB lo­cal CE Neil van der Weele as Asia-Pa­cific re­gional pres­i­dent – in “a bid to strengthen its global ca­pa­bil­i­ties”. Van der Weele as­sumes re­spon­si­bil­ity for es­tab­lish­ing and driv­ing a dig­i­tal and in­ter­ac­tive ca­pa­bil­ity for Draft­FCB in 12 coun­tries in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion.

It’s some­thing of a sur­prise that Draft­FCB has plucked some­one from a coun­try renowned for its fail­ure in the dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing arena to head a re­gion packed to the gills with geeks and other wired ad­men. It might be a touch chal­leng­ing, but Van der Weele is renowned for his peo­ple man­age­ment skills and isn’t without knowl­edge of the on­line arena. And geeks, let’s face it, need the hu­man touch.

Don’t for­get that un­der his steady guid­ance the South African unit has be­come the third most im­por­tant in the Draft­FCB net­work. It’s one of the big­gest and most prof­itable (in US dol­lars, de­spite rand weak­ness) and a lead­ing creative award-win­ner – in a group that doesn’t score too well cre­atively.

And while ranked 10th among world net­works, it’s also not fa­mous for its port­fo­lio of global clients, who ac­count for less than 5% of the South African group’s turnover.

The group’s im­age has been in dis­ar­ray since the no­to­ri­ous Wal-Mart af­fair. The “Julie Roehm fi­asco”, as Ad Age put it last week, “saw the agency land and then lose” the huge Wal-Mart re­tail ac­count in the space of a cou­ple of weeks without ever billing a cent. Draft­FCB’s mis­take was to sch­mooze Roehm, the mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, in mi­nor acts of in­flu­ence ped­dling that Wal­Mart’s con­ser­va­tive man­age­ment re­garded as ex­ces­sive. Like Howard Draft let­ting her take a spin in his James Bond As­tonMartin.

Van der Weele, who will be based in Mel­bourne, is a reg­u­lar straight-up sort of guy so you can be sure he means it when he says he’s not plan­ning to em­i­grate. His wife will stay be­hind un­til his daugh­ter com­pletes ma­tric, so there will be no whole­sale flight of

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