Seven months after parting ways with Ogilvy & Mather, Lars Bastholm has emerged as the chief creative officer for the American arm of Cheil Worldwide.
Bastholm left Ogilvy in May in what both sides called a mutual split. At the time, Bastholm, formerly of AKQA, said he wanted to "get out of management and take on a more hands-on entrepreneurial role."
The CCO post at Cheil would appear to be just that. Having struggled in the past to gain a foothold in the U.S., Cheil, a South Korean agency that started life as a unit of Samsung (that company still owns 15 percent of the agency), is pinning its hopes on Bastholm to help make its creative mark in this country.
"What Cheil is offering is more of a start-up atmosphere," said Bastholm. "At Ogilvy, the creative department alone was 200 people. When you're in a place that big, half of what you end up doing is just managing."
Still, it might be some time before Bastholm can show off his creative chops at Cheil. The agency only has two clients in the U.S., Samsung and Hankook Tire, meaning that Bastholm will be spending more of the foreseeable future pitching new business and building his creative team than making actual ads.
But Bastholm, who will be based in New York, is clear on the kind of work he wants Cheil to be doing in the U.S. He cited the 2009 Fun Theory campaign that DDB Stockholm created for Volkswagen and the Gatorade Replay campaign from TBWA/Chiat/Day as models for the kind of works he hopes to be known for.
"We want to help brands add value to people's lives," he said. Gatorade and Volkswagen "were both tapping into something that people really enjoy doing more than just marketing a brand. That's the philosophical direction I am going to be bringing the company in."
Bastholm will officially begin his new job on January 2, 2012. Formerly known as One Agency, the U.S. arm of Cheil, which consists of offices in New York City and Dallas, will be rebranded Cheil USA.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014