MacLaren McCann hires Darren Clarke

The agency's new chief creative officer joins after seven years at Taxi to provide creative leadership across its offices.

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MacLaren McCann has hired Darren Clarke as its new CCO as it looks to re-establish itself as a creative leader in Canada.

Clarke’s first day (in what is a new position at the agency) will be July 2.

Clarke had been ECD at Taxi’s Toronto office, which he joined in 2008 from Cossette. During his time at Taxi, he has been part of work that has taken home Gold at award shows including Cannes, the One Show and D&AD, and has found himself on numerous awards juries, including this year at Cannes.

“There are lots of creatives that are hot and cold, but Darren is just such a proven, consistent leader and gotten better through his career,” says David Leonard, CEO at MacLaren McCann. “And there’s lots of rock stars out there, but he’s genuine, and there’s no ego and attitude, which is important to the culture I’ve been trying to build here.”

The creative leadership at MacLaren McCann has been in flux over the last six months. In February, VP and group CD Chris Seguin left the agency to pursue freelance work and the month before that, SVP and group CD Sean Davison left the agency after 11 years to pursue new opportunities. At the end of 2014, it was announced fellow SVP/CD Michael Halminen would be leaving to take a position on Google’s agency team.

Over that time, MacLaren’s creative has been led by a combination of the agency’s creative directors, but Leonard says he was looking to hire someone that could provide leadership and vision across its offices in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver.

“Part of the strength of the company is having the different offices unified so we can capitalize on the talents across the country. You need someone at the top to do that,” he says. “It’s very different from just an ECD or a CD, because it isn’t just about the work, it’s about building client relationships, building the company, [and] pitch strategy. It’s a big job, and one Darren is suited for.”

Last month, it was announced that Leonard was leaving DDB to take over as CEO at MacLaren as Doug Turney prepared to leave his post as president and CEO to pursue other opportunities. Weeks later it was announced the agency had hired Joe Piccolo as group CD from Cossette, a move that Leonard says had been decided before he came on board. Having been in the position for roughly 30 days, he says he has been working to familiarize himself with the agency and its clients to better assess their needs. While more hires will be coming based on where he sees gaps, bringing Clarke on board was a clear priority.

“[The CCO] was the most important hire that had to come,” Leonard says. “I don’t think it’s any secret, but we haven’t been on the top creatively for a long time. This company has been through many eras and been on the top of the pile many times in its history, but it’s been a while. We have to, with new leadership, fight our way back and become a top three contender, because why else would you be in this business?”