Condé Nast is bringing in a career advertising executive to lead an expanded and re-branded creative agency arm.
John Deschner is now managing director of Condé’s CNX group, the area that will now oversee all advertising and branding work for outside clients. As part of an effort to re-brand the company’s agency-type work, which has become a substantial revenue source for Condé, its 23 Stories “creative studio” segment is being folded into CNX, which will continue to handle all sorts of typical agency work, like creative campaigns and event production and casting, along with branded and “white label” content, but on an expanded scale.
Anna Wintour, Condé’s artistic director and longtime editor in chief of Vogue, said the creative agency “has flourished since it was created just a few short years ago” and that expanding it “was a natural next step.”
As for Deschner — who is replacing Josh Stinchcomb, who spent most of his career in magazine publishing and left Condé over the summer after a decade in various roles to become chief revenue officer at Dow Jones — he’s spent nearly all of his career working in advertising. He was most recently chief innovation officer and managing director at TBWA/Chiat/Day, the U.S. arm of TBWA Worldwide, and international agency owned by Omnicom Group.
While one could think that moving from a major agency to a media publisher that is going through its share of change as consumer culture shifts in the face of ever-deepening digital capabilities and expectations wouldn’t be appealing, Deschner sees Condé’s agency as essentially the future of advertising, since it offers a way to cut out the industry’s middle man, so to speak.
“Traditional agencies burn a significant proportion of their cycles and their clients’ budgets trying to spot culture and media trends they can hitch brands to,” Deschner said. “In addition to a century’s worth of interactions with and insights into our audience, CNX sits inside a company that is helping to create those trends.”
Deschner also thinks that traditional media is actually becoming more attractive to brands and advertisers as marketing and social media have become so pervasive. One aspect of CNX’s overall approach “will be to augment large brand moments with smart and effective consumer touch points across the whole media landscape,” he said.
Beyond that, Deschner was mum on what exactly he wants to do with CNX, noting he wants to first ensure that the growth of the group “is tied directly to what our clients want from us.”
Deschner’s new role will also include a lot of work with Condé Nast International, which has slowly become more of a force in what Condé U.S. is up to. In a memo on the new CNX and Deschner’s appointment, Condé said the agency will have a partnership with CNI, which has consolidated its own agency operations in 11 markets under the newly created Condé Nast Creative Studios.
Pamela Drucker Mann, Condé’s chief revenue and marketing officer, to whom Deschner will report, noted his experience in “building and expanding digital businesses” at his previous agencies, offering a glimpse of the company’s hopes for the segment.
“Pairing John’s expertise with the new global network of editorial talent and influence available through CNX,” Drucker Mann added, “immediately puts Condé Nast at the forefront of the creative agency business.”
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