Dentsu Creative adds Belmesk, Doucette

Dentsu Creative, the new agency network that arose out of the global merger of dentsu mcgarrybowen, Isobar, 360i and, in Canada, DentsuOne (previously Grip Limited), has made two senior hires, announcing the addition of Rafik Belmesk (main picture) as its chief strategy officer, and Jordan Doucette (below) as chief creative officer.

“We’re packing a punch at Dentsu Creative in Canada,” said Denstu Canada CEO Stephen Kiely of the network’s latest hires.

He said the hires reflect the network’s commitment to “modern creativity,” with the aim of becoming a best-in-class creative, media and data powerhouse. “Part of that [objective] is bringing in world-class talent, and the Rafiks and Jordans of the world are examples of that,” said Kiely. “Their books of work really speak for themselves.”

In late 2020, Dentsu embarked on a significant reorganization that included reducing its more than 160 agency brands around the world to as few as six. The changes were expected to lead to as many as 6,000 layoffs, but would result in a more simplified and integrated operations driven by technology and data.

That brand reduction strategy led to the creation of Dentsu Creative in June. Then Dentsu International global CEO Wendy Clark (who left the company in September) described Dentsu Creative at the time as a modern agency network fuelled by “horizontal creativity,” with creative ideas flowing through the company’s two other business lines: media and CXM. The company said that it wants to “own” this process, and become the most integrated network in the world.

Doucette quietly joined Dentsu Creative in October after spending the past year at FCB West in San Francisco. Before that, she was partner and president at No Fixed Address, while her resume also includes stops at Leo Burnett Chicago, Taxi, and Edelman.

“She has a proven track record of modern creativity,” said Kiely. “You look at her book and it’s one hit after another that is inspired. That’s the kind of work we want to be consistently bringing to our clients.”

Doucette also had a hand in the recent campaign from Dentsu Creative Italy for the snack brand Fonzies, which urged “purposeless” Italian fans with no rooting interest in this year’s World Cup to cheer for Canada.

“Jordan was at the heart of that, working with our Italian office,” said Kiely. “That’s a fabulous example of the type of work we’re brewing up together, and Jordan has been a unifying force working with other Dentsu Creative offices around the world to bring projects like that to life.”

Based out of Montreal, Belmesk arrives at Dentsu Creative from Taxi, where he rose through the ranks to assume leadership of the strategy team working with clients including Coca-Cola, vitaminwater, Fido, Intel, Unilever and Volkswagen. He also spent time with Ogilvy Singapore, Edelman and Lg2, and co-founded the Young Glory competition honouring creative consistency.

The agency conducted a thorough search before ultimately selecting Belmesk. “His name kept bubbling to the top,” said Kiely. “When you look at the work that he’s done…and the way that he launched Young Glory, there was no other option than Rafik.”

Belmesk replaces Charlie Almond, who is taking on a role within the Dentsu Americas strategy and innovation group. Belmesk’s official start date is Dec. 5.

A Dentsu spokesperson confirmed that Rich Pryce-Jones, who had been CCO for Dentsu Mcgarrybowen, left the agency earlier this year (his LinkedIn profile now lists him as a partner with Matt’s Quality Meat Company), while David Chiavegato remains at Dentsu in a “consultation manner.”

The Belmesk and Doucette hires follow another high-profile hire in former Mindshare Canada CSO Sarah Thompson, who joined the organization as president of Dentsu Media in July.

Kiely said that additional high-profile hires will be forthcoming.”We’re just getting started,” he said.

Chris Powell