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Billy Mawhinney becomes his own boss

After 30 years heading up creative departments at agencies such as BJL, Faulds and JWT, adman Billy Mawhinney is going it alone.

Football-loving Mawhinney had until recently been “caretaker manager” at McCann Erickson Birmingham while the agency searched for its new executive creative director.

The Drum revealed on Wednesday that McCanns had finally ended its exhaustive search with the appointment of Vince McSweeney, creative director of McCann Sydney.

Mawhinney said it was always the plan for his tenure at McCanns to be temporary, and now his work at the agency is done he has started his own company to work with clients directly.

In the haste to set up his own outfit, Mawhinney avoided plumping for "an odd name" and instead opted to call the company after his initials: WJPM.

He told The Drum: "When I went to McCanns, I think Dean [Lovett, CEO] himself called it an 'acting CD' role.

“I really enjoyed working with the guys at McCanns, they’re a great bunch, but it was never a permanent move.

"What I've been building up is working direct for clients.”

Mawhinney, now back in London, is working with “a couple of clients” whose identities he is not yet able to divulge, but he was able to talk about one piece of business.

“The main one that's keeping me busy has been We launch a 60 second TV commercial tonight in fact.

"That came about through a client of mine I used to work with at Scottish Widows, a very bright bloke called Mike Hoban.”

Asked about the transition from agency life to being his own boss, Mawhinney said it had been a “natural progression“.

“I've been doing the creative directing, all the shenanigans that go with getting a department and setting it up, and to be honest I'm quite happy never to do that again really.

“Like everything in life, there's highs and lows to it. Obviously I miss a lot of the creative camaraderie, and I always loved working with young teams.

“But I’m a mentor at the new School of Communication Arts so through that I still get the chance to work with the new creatives.

"And I'm still open for weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals!”

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