Patrick Smith has an interesting task ahead in his new job as European chief executive at FutureBrand (DW News, page 3). It will be no mean feat to pull together the disparate parts of the global branding group’s European network, especially as so much time has elapsed since most of the offices were acquired in the late 1990s.
What makes his job even tougher is that many of the previous owners of the packaging and identity consultancies that threw in their lot with Interpublic Group-owned FutureBrand have completed their earn-out periods and withdrawn from the fray, most of them bruised by the experience. Witness David Davies and Stuart Baron in the UK, who quit to eventually set up as David Davies 517 last year.
Add to this the cobbling together in 2000 of Interpublic’s two main design networks, FutureBrand on the identity and branded interiors side and packaging giant The Coleman Group Worldwide, and you begin to comprehend the size of the task facing Smith. In the UK that deal involved the coming together of FutureBrand and Coleman Planet and the subsequent departure of senior talent such as creative director Bill Wallsgrove, chief executive Charles Trevail, chief operating officer Libby Child and, more recently, managing director Liz Quinn, among others.
Smith has a strong ally though in Jean-Louis Dumeu, the global chief executive who took the FutureBrand helm, joining from Landor in Paris. Dumeu takes a hands-on approach and has spent the intervening months visiting FutureBrand’s office network to assess the situation for himself. Integration has subsequently become his byword, while rival networks might still be bent on acquisition.
Between them Dumeu, who spent 15 years at Landor, which is now part of WPP Group, and Smith, from WPP’s other branding flagship, Enterprise IG, have considerable experience of running big international businesses. It will be interesting to see if they can evolve a new model that brings the big groups back into a leadership role based on something other than weight of numbers financial clout.
Craft plus design can be a winning formula
Congratulations to Ed Barber and Jay Osgerby for beating a strong field to win the coveted Jerwood Applied Arts Prize for furniture, supported by the Crafts Council (see News, page 3). Their win shows how much craft and design have come together over recent years, for while most of their products can be mass-produced they still win the odd one-off commission. It is a welcome move, opening up the channels for young designer-makers to follow.