Choi leaving Cundari for JWT

January 17, 2013  |  David Brown and Jeromy Lloyd

A new position to take an agency in a new direction

Brent Choi is leaving his role as chief creative officer at Cundari, joining JWT Canada as chief creative and integration officer on Jan. 31.

All of JWT’s senior-level creative talent remain in place, reporting into Choi, with the exception of executive creative director Martin Shewchuk, who takes the new title of creative chairman. Shewchuk, who helped recruit Choi, will report to Susan Kim-Kirkland, president and CEO of JWT Canada.

“Nobody has left the agency,” said Kim-Kirkland. “This is a position we have created to lead the agency in a new vision, which is about elevating the quality of the work.”

Kim-Kirkland only assumed leadership of JWT Oct. 16, and part of her job from day one was to add some creative firepower to JWT, she said. “We really have to be on a mission to modernize as an agency.”

“One of the very first things we had to look at is the leadership on the creative side of the equation,” she said. “When I came in, part of the discussion was who was the leader going to be? Who was our next generation of creative leadership going to be given that the world is changing. That led us to Brent.”

She had not met Choi but knew him by reputation and the strong performance at Cundari over the past few years.

Choi joined Cundari in January 2009 from Saatchi and Saatchi. Cundari’s creative reputation improved significantly under Choi’s leadership. Recently, the agency produced award-winning work for BMW and Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. The Pain Squad app for the hospital won two Gold Lions in Cannes last June – the first Lions for the agency.

“[Choi's got] a track record of great ideas, inspiring great thinking and he’s clearly got proven chops from a digital specific perspective,” she said.

Leaving Cundari was “probably the most difficult decision I have ever had in my career,” said Choi, but upon meeting Kim-Kirkland he said he could “feel the passion” for change at JWT. “They have great new vision and leadership,” he said.

Aldo Cundari, chairman and CEO of Choi’s old agency, said he is looking to fill the CCO position “sooner rather than later,” but said the existing creative team and its five “creative leads” are strong enough to maintain consistency on client work during the interim – thanks in large part to Choi’s leadership and guidance during his tenure.

“We’re parting as friends and we wish him all the best in the world,” said Cundari.

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