DDB California Finds Its Creative Chief at Deutsch

Jason Elm, known for his PlayStation work, starts next week

DDB has reached into Deutsch LA to find a new creative chief for its offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Jason Elm assumes the role of chief creative officer of DDB California next week. He fills a vacancy left by the March shift of Lisa Bennett to evp of creative for North America.

At DDB, Elm will oversee the work of more than 30 creative staffers on accounts such as Clorox, Wells Fargo, ConAgra and Qualcomm. He’ll be based in San Francisco and work closely with California CEO Mike Harris, who joined the shop last summer.

Harris talked to 10 candidates before zeroing in on Elm, a veteran of Deutsch LA who has worked on the likes of Sony PlayStation, Diamond Foods and Expedia.com.

Elm spent 15 years at Deutsch, lastly as a group creative director on PlayStation. Among the campaigns he helped shape for the video game giant were “Michael” and “Kevin Butler.”

Elm, 43, also contributed to new business efforts at Deutsch—experience that Harris sees as essential in a creative partner, as DDB seeks to expand its account base, particularly in the Los Angeles office. That office currently works on a single account: Wells Fargo.

Beyond his credentials, Harris was impressed by Elm’s demeanor when they met during the recruitment process.

“He struck me as being a moral and ethical guy who really believes that creativity can make the difference and change the world,”Harris said. “That’s also something that I was looking for: a creative person that had a moral compass versus being a self-indulgent creative who’s just trying to make his reel look amazing.”

Harris and Elm also “talked a lot about his love of and desire to teach people, mentor people and build groups,” Harris said. “This agency, as we’re tearing it down and reconstructing it, is going to need a lot of that.”

This is Elm’s first crack at running a creative department, though as a group cd, he oversaw more than a dozen staffers. And while he feels the weight of that responsibility, he welcomes the challenge, which he described in simple, straightforward terms.

“I want to do two things: make a difference and have fun,” Elm said. “Of course, I feel a little bit of the responsibility but that makes me want it even harder and want to succeed even more. I’m really excited.”