Vote of confidence
DraftFCB chief Neil van der Weele goes global
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