Mergers mean stars going solo – for now

No sooner had headhunter Fiona Steen opened her mouth on the subject of creative directors than she was proved right. Mergers are releasing senior people, and the departure of Tim Fendley from Icon Brandlab and his former partner in MetaDesign London, Robin Richmond, from Icon Medialab has potentially put two hot talents on the job market.

The decision of the two to quit their respective jobs was not, says Fendley, related to the deal within Interpublic Group which takes Icon Brandlab out of the stable of its Scandinavian founder and allies it with FutureBrand Worldwide. But it could be argued that it is part of the fall-out from the merger deal struck a year ago between Icon Medialab and MetaDesign London.

Given the experience and expertise of Fendley and Richmond, it is more likely that they will set up another joint venture than that they will end up being employed. Certainly, other high profile players have used their new-found freedom to broaden their personal scope.

Former Enterprise IG managing creative director Franco Bonadio, for example, spent six months consulting at a senior level before joining C21 as creative director earlier this year (DW 12 January). And Judi Green is biding her time as an independent consultant until the right offer emerges, as well as developing her fine art skills, having left her job as group creative director of publisher Dorling Kindersley last July (DW 7 July 2000). Examples like these give the impression that talent is out there, but in no hurry to find a home with a consultancy or client.

A week ago I mooted the idea of “names” from the creative industries coming together to form new supergroups as a backlash to the globalisation of the sector (Comment, DW 2 March). Given that Fendley and Richmond are still collaborating with German design star Erik Spiekermann, who in turn left MetaDesign last year, perhaps they will start the ball rolling.

Wolff at the door

Interest in the possible sale of Wolff Olins never falters and confirmation this week that it is in talks with potential “partners” will fuel even more speculation. Whether or not it sells itself, it will have to extend beyond London, New York, Lisbon and Madrid if it is to compete in its reach with the likes of Enterprise IG, FutureBrand and Interbrand. It will also have to look to its succession soon, given that members of the team that effected a management buyout four years ago aren’t getting any younger. Watch this space.

Lynda Relph-Knight

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