Simon goes global, Chelvanathan to lead Canadian creative for Edelman

Edelman has promoted two of its top Toronto-based creatives as it continues to build out its creative depth and breadth around the world.

The changes announced Monday include Andrew Simon’s promotion to global creative director, while Anthony Chelvanathan becomes chief creative officer for Edelman Canada.

“Andrew and Anthony are both incredible creative talents who have led powerful and transformative work,” said Edelman global chief creative officer Judy John, in a release.  “I’m excited for them to step into new roles where their unique talents will further be amplified to lead our teams and clients to business and societal changing ideas.”

While Edelman is still best known as the world’s largest PR agency network, Toronto has become an unofficial home-base for its efforts to move beyond “classic public relations,” as global CEO Richard Edelman put it when he hired John away from Leo Burnett in 2019 to oversee creative globally. The goal, he said, was to “make the case for Edelman as the lead creative partner when a brand or business wants to disrupt the market by taking a stand.”

Last year, John opened a “creative hub” in Toronto with the hiring of Chelvanathan and Manas Abrol, and Krystle Mullin as creative directors. “Having a global creative hub here has always been a dream of mine, because I know the talent that we have here,” John told The Message. At that time, Simon, who joined Edelman as executive creative director for Canada in 2015, took on global creative lead for Unilever, one of the most important, and biggest marketers in the world.

The fact Simon is based in Toronto demonstrates that the location of the creatives has become irrelevant for Edelman. Teams can work on clients around the world with an extraordinary degree of collaboration, he said.

“We have this pool of many different resources that we move around. They’re not all Canadian based. Some are L.A.-based, some are European based, and that’s just the way it goes,” he said. “I really do feel like a part of this winning team, that we’re all doing this together.”

And while Edelman has been adding traditional ad agency creatives in recent years, its focus is to use creative thinking to go beyond traditional communications to solve problems and affect real change.

Simon points to the “See my Skin” campaign for Unilever’s Vaseline brand, which recently won in Cannes, and the work Edelman did to support the documentary “Hair Love” and Unilever’s backing of the Crown Act to end race-based hair discrimination.

“It’s always back to, ‘How do we create action?’” he said. “What we do best is to impact culture. And so that’s where we bring our creative thinking and our creative minds to do that and make an impact on the world.”

Simon’s promotion is about expanding that work for Unilever in more markets, but they are also talking to other Edelman clients about adopting similar approaches and strategies. “We have many clients… who have the appetite to do better work and more impactful work,” he said.



David Brown