DDB announces Eckersley and Thur as new creative leadership

DDB Canada is seeking a new senior leader for its Canadian operations after the departure of Kevin Brady, who quietly left in February after taking over as president and CEO in a 2020 restructuring.

The Omnicom network confirmed on Thursday that Brady (below picture) was no longer with the agency, the same day it announced that the longtime creative tandem of Rica Eckersley and Adam Thur have joined as executive creative directors.

According to an email response to The Message, North American president and CEO Justin Thomas-Copeland is overseeing DDB’s Canadian operations on an interim basis as it seeks a successor for Brady. “Recruitment efforts are well underway to identify the next leader of DDB Canada Group,” said the statement.

Partners for 16 years, Eckersley and Thur are an award-winning creative duo who have worked at shops including TBWA\Juniper Park, Taxi and Leo Burnett, producing work for brands including Best Buy, IKEA, Wonder, Virgin Mobile and Audi.

They spent the previous eight years at DonerNorth, the agency formed from last year’s merger between two Stagwell shops: Union, and shopper marketing and data specialists 6Degrees.

DDB’s senior vice-president, managing director Megan Hardisty described Eckersley and Thur as a “game-changing duo” for the agency. “Rica and Adam bring an incredible portfolio, diversity of background and experience, and a deep understanding of strategic insights that fuel and inspire unexpected creative,” she said in a release.

DDB has seen several changes to its senior ranks in the past two years, with former CEO and CCO Brent Choi resigning in June 2020 after just over a year with the agency. Erin Kawalecki, who was previously ECD at DDB’s Toronto office, later partnered with Choi and another former DDB colleague, Kevin Candy, to launch Angry Butterfly.

Tony Miller, the longtime Anderson DDB creative director who was given an expanded creative role with the agency in the 2020 restructuring, remains with the agency.

The release also signalled plans for greater collaboration between DDB’s North American offices. It said that Eckersley and Thur will work closely with the agency’s creative council in North America under the leadership of global chief creative officer Ari Weiss. “[I]t will bring us even closer together as a creative network, delivering even more unexpected possibilities for our clients,” said Thomas-Copeland.

DDB’s global CEO Marty Halloran told Business Insider last year that he was pushing for greater collaboration between offices, citing a campaign for Molson Coors’ Coors Light and Coors Seltzer jointly developed by its Chicago and Sydney offices as an example of the type of approach he envisioned.

“Collaboration cross offices within DDB North America allows us to further strengthen our creative product for our clients,” said DDB in a statement, noting that it is part of Thomas-Copeland’s overall vision for the region.

“All relationships are local. However, we believe in cross North America collaboration as it can often strengthen the creative solutions for our clients,” said the statement. “It is an important element to becoming a future-forward creative powerhouse—to always being open to new inspiration. The best creative businesses have this in their DNA.”

DDB is in the midst of what Eckersley described as “an exciting global creative transformation,” while adding that there is “good momentum” within its Canadian operations. “I’m honoured to be part of the story at such an important turning point,” she said.

Added Thur: “It is a perfect match. The very concept of creative teams as we know it started at DDB, which ties in perfectly to our collaborative approach. We can’t wait for this next chapter!”

DDB currently employs 172 people in Canada across its various division, including its health and lifestyle network Anderson DDB and its data-led agency TrackDDB.

Chris Powell