Brigid Alkema named chair of Clemenger Group’s Creative Council as James McGrath steps down after more than 15 years with Clemenger Group
Clemenger Group has announced Clemenger BBDO Wellington’s chief creative officer Brigid Alkema as the chair of the Group’s Creative Council.
Alkema has been an integral part of Clemenger Group’s creative team in both Australia and New Zealand, starting as an art director with Clemenger BBDO Wellington in 2000 before joining the Sydney team for a couple of years and then returning to Wellington in 2006.
She was appointed executive creative director in 2015 before taking upon the role of chief creative officer of Clemenger BBDO Wellington in 2021.
In the same year, Alkema became the first female from New Zealand to be appointed to the global BBDO Creative Board – reaffirming the agency’s and New Zealand’s standing in the creative world.
Alkema has fostered an exceptional team of strategic, creative thinkers at Clemenger BBDO Wellington who have continually reimagined social and behavioural change marketing – leading to some of the world’s most memorable, creatively awarded and effective behaviour change pieces.
She will continue in her role at Clemenger BBDO Wellington while now supporting and mentoring the Group’s creative leadership across Australia and New Zealand, chairing a Creative Council which comprises chief creative officers and executive creative directors from around the Group’s agency network.
The Council is tasked with developing and enhancing the group’s creative product across the Tasman, embarking on initiatives that can continue to further the Group’s commitment to creativity.
Alkema assumes the role of leading the Creative Council from James McGrath, who will step down from his current role as creative director at-large after more than 15 years with Clemenger Group.
Says Les Timar, CEO, Clemenger Group: “Clemenger BBDO Wellington has worked on some of the most complex problems of our time, such as racism, road safety, toxic masculinity, climate change and COVID-19. Brigid’s creative wisdom and brilliance has transformed our work and enabled it to truly impact culture and our society.
“We are excited to see Brigid’s creative leadership extend to the Group – she is highly respected by her peers, our clients and the industry, and will build on the important creative foundations laid by James McGrath.”
Says Alkema: “The role, as I see it, is to ensure our creative culture continues to thrive – making sure our talent, our relationships, and the environments we operate in, are nurtured to create the space and energy for magic.
“James is one of the most elegant creative leaders and contemporary thinkers in our industry. With intelligence, integrity, depth, and precision he provoked greatness in the work and our people year after year. He has influenced me greatly. I’ll draw upon everything I’ve learned from him to carry the creative baton with care, flair and pride.”
James McGrath is regarded as one of the all-time great creative leaders and has been a stalwart of Clemenger Group. Under his creative leadership at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, the agency’s work was widely recognised for its creative excellence both in Australia and globally.
Says Timar: “I would also like to acknowledge the immense contribution of James McGrath to Clemenger Group and Clemenger BBDO. His collaborative approach and understanding of the critical balance between creativity and effectiveness, has been at the centre of our work with the country’s leading brands and companies.”
Clemenger Group will also welcome Brigid to the board of Clemenger Group Limited.
Great news, congratulations Brigid!
Is the end of the McGrath era. A pithy footnote on a press release. Pretty sad really. He was, unless my memory mistakes me, the architect of the best work of Clemenger’s existence. Not only that, but at his peak, he corralled the best of the best to work there, and it was judged the best in the world. Bravo.
An outstanding, uncompromising believer in the work, the work, the work.
The best of what was produced under James is the best of the best.
Well done James.
Good luck in whatever comes next.
What an amazing ride. Sad day for Clems when a legend like James moves on.
A quiet yet confidant man who let everyone else take the stage.
James would hate it but he absolutely and utterly must take home every Hall Of Fame accolade Australia can offer.
He made your work better.
A true creative architect – in a region that has had very few.
Thank you James McGrath.
Am amazing career and legacy.
Well done, Brig!
We all looked at Clemenger and wondered how we could get James out of there.
But quite apart from his great talents, he was immensely loyal to the company.
As they no doubt were to him.
There’s a lesson in there for younger creatives coming through the ranks.
Congratulations James on a stellar career.
I have to say, I learnt so much from James. A rare talent. And laser focus on great work.
Well played, Sir. An absolutely outstanding and inimitable innings. Respect.
You just need to glance at the Creative leaders of Aussie agencies right now and see his impact. Special, DDB, TBWA, Monkeys, Ogilvy, Thinkerbell, BMF, H&C all influenced by James.
I was lucky to have several years of him making my briefs better, and owe him a lot for it.
But in true style, he’ll exit quietly stage right.
Thank you thank you.
That decade long dynasty from around 2007 – 2017 will go down as a special moment in time for Clemenger Melbourne.
As someone mentioned above, there are now a big list of current ECD’s and CCO’s that grew from his influence. I am lucky to be one of them.
He set an extremely high bar and his quietly applied pressure made sure everyone knew what they were there to do.
It may have been his wish to have a quiet exit. Looking from afar it certainly feels that way.
James was an exceptional leader during the time I worked with him. A true creative genius with uncompromising standards. Also exceptional is Brigid. At our creative leadership gatherings, Brigid always had such sharp ideas to share, and sharp perspectives which made other offices’ work stronger. She is smart, passionate and a motivator – I look forward to seeing what she grows in her new role.
Congrats to Brigid.
But a huge congrats to James for the legend he is. Having sat on a jury he presided over at Cannes, he was an absolutely amazing leader. Frankly, I was intimidated to meet him due to all the brilliant work he and his team were responsible for consistently over the years. Prior to the jury sitting down in a room, he sent each of us hand written notes to welcome us and expressed his excitement to be working with us. And when it was all over, he sent another hand written note thanking us for our efforts and time together. A true gentleman, and class act.
‘As they no doubt [Clemenger] were to him.
Thank you, I need that.