Departed Barbarian Group CEO Says You Shouldn’t Believe Everything You Read on This Blog

Last week, we wrote about The Barbarian Group interim CEO Aaron Lau taking over for Peter Kim less than nine months after he succeeded Sophie Kelly, who had served in the position since 2011, as chief executive. Multiple sources told us that Cheil Worldwide made the decision to replace Kim, but he disputed that claim in a blog post yesterday, which arrived on the heels of a Digiday article in which co-founder Rick Webb told the publication the agency is “literally being run into the ground.”

Kim wrote that when he took over as CEO last December, he was “tasked with turning an agency around that was in worse shape than anyone realized,” a statement which seems to be corroborated by the aforementioned Digiday piece. 

According to Kim, “the actions we’ve taken over the past three quarters have allowed the agency to continue producing great work for global brands and left the financials cleaner and more transparent than they’ve been for many years,” and “With this phase of transformation complete, I made the decision to separate from The Barbarian Group and Cheil Worldwide.”

He added: “don’t believe everything you read in the trades. Many articles are tipped by people with personal agendas and written for today’s Gawker-engendered media environment, designed to maximize clicks, shares, and gossip. The truth is out there, but only half of it will ever make Agency Spy.”

Any enlightenment on this topic from the comments section?

The Barbarian Group Co-Founder Tells Digiday the Agency Is ‘Literally Being Run into the Ground’

Today Shareen Pathak of Digiday ran a rather unflattering portrait of The Barbarian Group, taking a look inside its recent “meltdown.”

The Group has seen something of a leadership exodus in recent months, changing CEOs for the second time in less than a year last week. Back in December, Sophie Kelly left the agency to be replaced by Peter Kim, who has since been succeded by interim CEO Aaron Lau. In March, co-founder and chairman Benjamin Palmer left the agency after 14 years, with chief strategy officer Ian Daly part of a wave of executive departures two months later. Owner/CXO Keith Butters, CCO Edu Pou, head of talent/HR Michelle Prota and head of account management Sherri Chambers also left the agency in May

“The fact that it’s still around at all is a testament to its heritage, since right now it is literally being run into the ground,” Barbarian co-founder Rick Webb told Digiday. 

The publication pointed Barbarian’s relationship with Korean holding company Cheil Worldwide, “a company with a culture at odds with its own.” For example, one veteran of The Barbarian Group told us that Cheil didn’t want to pay full price for its in-house talent, especially on the technical side of things.

This party also pointed to clients not knowing quite what to make of the organization, saying, “We were in limbo between production shop and full-service agency. And while the middle was interesting, a lot of clients didn’t know how to engage.” At a certain point, Barbarian spent significant amounts of money pitching new business alongside more traditional shops — and this investment largely failed to pay off.

Agency veterans also claim that certain members of the leadership team “checked out” well ahead of Cheil firing Kelly.

“When they fired [Kelly], an account person, who personally owned the relationships with every major client, out of the blue without telling the clients in advance, the fate was sealed,” Webb told Digiday. “They’ve been play-acting since December, and they never had a chance.”

Lau, currently serving as interim CEO says finding permanent CEO for the agency is his next order of business. “I’m not here to change history,” he told the publication, “I’m here to shape the future.”

It would seem that certain media outlets also got a little overexcited about The SuperDesk, which would turn out to be a symbol of Barbarian’s ambitions despite the fact that — according to our sources, at least — most employees liked it.

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James Corden Bickers With James Corden as Samsung Galaxy S6 Ads Flood In

Forget about pre-order day for the Apple Watch. It’s also launch day for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which means ads for the smartphone are rolling out all over the world.

The two most notable spots come from Cheil U.K. and 72andSunny for the U.K. and global markets, respectively. The Cheil spot stars James Corden twice over—as himself and his alter ego, an obnoxious commercial director named Wilf Meltson. It’s the kind of self-aware celebrity-pitchman work we’ve seen a lot lately, even if Corden doesn’t get as self-hating or downright scornful as Neil Patrick Harris or Ricky Gervais.

72andSunny’s spot, meanwhile, eschews the comical for the aspirational, suggesting the Galaxy S6 is about feeling more alive “when possibility becomes reality, when the future becomes real.”

There’s plenty of other Galaxy S6 work to check out, too, not just from Samsung but from its carrier partners as well—for example, this new mcgarrybowen spot for Verizon Wireless.

This Samsung Headphones Ad Is Such Utter Arty Nonsense, It's Actually Kind of Good

Moody black-and-white photography. Whispered dialogue. Ethereal soundtrack. Pouty orgasm faces. Sensual mid-air ballet.

Amazingly, this isn’t a perfume or fashion ad from the ’90s but Cheil Worldwide’s latest spot for Samsung Mobile, supporting the brand’s Gear Circle Bluetooth headset.

You know you’re in for a wild ride right from the start, when some skinny dude, chillin’ on the rug in front of a cozy fireplace, engages the product and a wraithlike blonde woman—previously unseen—flies up toward the ceiling, as if she’d sprung out of his very soul. The guy’s also suddenly and inexplicably shirtless at that point, naturally. Soon, he’s also soaring above the ground.

“A bit much for a pair of headphones, don’t you think?” one YouTube commenter asks.

Perhaps. And yet, this stuff is so self-consciously goofy and packed with artsy pretense—not to mention very well made, by Keystone Films director Liukh—that it’s tough to look away.

“Once you belong to the circle, you’ll never want to go back,” a voiceover says at the end. A British accented voiceover—awesome!

That line is vaguely creepy. (A slap at the cult of Mac?) Still, the spot’s blithely campy approach helps it take flight. It’s sure to get a rise out of viewers.

Samsung Ad Introduces the Cutest, Pluckiest Smartphone Memory Card Ever

A Samsung SD smartphone memory card morphs into a cute, miniature robot action hero in this engaging 45-second clip from Cheil Worldwide in Seoul and Museum Film. The ad, running exclusively online at present, targets smartphone users in the U.K., North America, Europe and Japan.

RoboCard's adventures, directed by J.M. Lee, illustrate product attributes. He soars with a jetpack (demonstrating speed), repels thumbtacks and paperclips (the card is impervious to magnets) and makes a splash by riding a tropical fish rodeo style (it's waterproof). The details are great fun. Note how his metal feet sprout tiny flippers for his fish-tank dive. The cat's miffed reaction as the bot bursts above the water's surface is a neat touch, too.

I also like how his antics take place in a typical home/office setting, infusing the everyday world with some high-tech panache—which, after all, is part of the product's appeal.

Best of all, MemBot is much too adorable to join a robo-rebellion and subjugate mankind … I think. Still, I wouldn't cross the little guy. He's got a long memory. (Up to 64GB!)

Samsung Printers by Cheil

Advertising Agency: Cheil Worldwide, Gurgaon, India
Executive Creative Director: Nima Namchu
Creative Directors: Navin Theeng, Kaushik Saha
Art Director: Debmalaya Mitra
Copywriters: Nima Namchu, Navin Theeng
Photographer: Hormis Thakaran Antony





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Samsung Quick-Cool ACs

Agency: Cheil Worldwide, Gurgaon, India
Creative Director: Vedobroto Roy
Art Director: Chetana Prasad
Copywriter: Vedobroto Roy
Illustrator: Atanu Roy