Apart from enthusing about the warmth and vibrancy of the welcome he received in Manila, Harris says the single deciding factor behind his acceptance of the CEO role at BBDO Guerrero Proximity Philippines is the “astonishing strength” of the agency’s work.
“It’s a world class operation, there’s no shortage of creativity and energy,” he says, also heaping praise on “the collaborative nature of David and his team that ultimately drew me to this opportunity.”
What he’s most looking forward to, he says, is being involved with great talent and producing famous creative work, which, he says, “is what everybody in our business wants, whether (they’re) from Manchester, Moscow or indeed Manila.”
Harris says he has no doubt that his new agency’s integrated work is not just at the top of its game in the Philippines or indeed, the region, but is truly world-class.
Indeed Harris is no stranger to award-winning creativity, joining from RKCR Y&R in London. During his 12-year tenure, the agency has grown to be the third largest in the UK and the most successful British creative agency in the 2010 global Gunn Report.
His career in advertising started at Publicis London, which he joined straight from University before moving on to BMP DDB, where over a period of less than five years he rose to the level of board director. Having worked on a wealth of international and domestic clients, Harris helped develop acclaimed work for Virgin, Lloyds TSB Bank, Danone, Budweiser, Xerox and most notably for the UK Government.
Aside from regularly featuring in Campaign’s ‘Most influential’ list, he was, just a few weeks ago, named by the magazine as one of London’s top 10 account men.
Harris says his move was in no way influenced by the changes at Y&R including the departure of global CEO Hamish Maclennan. “I wasn’t even looking to leave the agency, I’ve been very happy there for the last twelve years. But the strength of the creative work at BBDO was a huge pull - a new challenge, a new place, new people.”
His key challenge, he says, will be quickly getting up to speed on audiences, clients and their relationship with advertising. “If anything, I’m surprised at how much it’s the same, rather than the differences. But I need to grasp the particular vagaries of the market, if anything I think the Philippines is less cynical as a market.”
Harris is due to start around June or July 2011, reporting to BBDO Asia-Pacific CEO Chris Thomas. “I’m very much looking forward to it. I'm really impressed with the agency - even giving up my Newcastle United season ticket."