Superunion reinforces leadership team with hire of Interbrand vet Ross Clugston

Ross Clugston, formerly of Interbrand, has joined Superunion as its US executive creative director. / Superunion

Superunion has announced its welcome of Ross Clugston to the title of executive creative director in the US.

In his new role at the WPP branding conglomerate, Clugston will leverage his expertise in tech and healthcare, and foster collaboration across agency disciplines from creative to strategy to finance.

Clugston was most recently at Interbrand as creative director for its San Francisco and New York offices. Some of the clients he worked on during his time at the Omnicom shop included Qualcomm, Microsoft, Amazon, Mars Wrigley, Google, Disney and Nissan.

Clugston will work closely with executive director of strategy Vincent Roffers in New York, and also with global chief creative officer Greg Quinton, to further strengthen the agency’s approach to client challenges, and apply a methodology that drives solutions for the region and on a global scale.

Quinton said: “It’s a massively exciting time for us as a business. Clients are asking for the best creative solutions to shape their brands and to help meet the new challenges they face. Ross is exactly the kind of creative spirit to help us achieve this, so we’re delighted that he’s joined the team.”

Clugston’s hire comes on the heels of Superunion's appointment of Sabah Ashraf as chief executive for North America.

She said of Clugston: “Ross is a builder and we could not be more excited that he has joined us. I have admired his leadership style and work at his previous companies and we look forward to the impact he will make within our Superunion network, and more importantly, for our clients. He brings an infectious energy to innovate and an unwavering optimism about the future and what we are building here at Superunion. We are so excited to welcome him to our leadership team.”

When asked about leaving Interbrand and how Superunion will challenge him, Clugston said: “ At this stage in my career, Superunion is at the perfect size for us to build community, structure and excitement into how a consultancy can creatively tackle a brief. We need to be nimble, collaborative (across the WPP network) and make sure we are talking to customers. Nothing is more important than being able to take an idea beyond ‘design intent.’ We can get ideas out of the boardroom and into our customers’ hands in order to create conversations and deliver feedback in real time.”

He looks forward to working with his team of “bench of designers, strategist, writers, makers, thinkers and doers,” and has taken a primary focus on working with his design staff. “They’ve chosen the creative industry for a reason,” he said. “They’re committed to the process and want to make things every day. At Superunion, that’s something we fully embrace and encourage.”

Superunion was borne out of WPP’s string of consolidations, but also the evolution of how consumers and brands interact.

Said Clugston: "Our clients’ industries have been turned on their heads. They live in a world of disruption everyday. In contrast to this, the branding space (agencies) have remained the same. It has been a constant pain-point for me, as slow-moving, un-collaborative processes seem to be the branding industry norm. We need to practice what we preach. We need to be accountable for creatively solving business problems in the real world—not presenting logo’s on tote bags and business cards. Brand in 2018 should be about creating emotional connections and engaging in conversations with customers, be that employees, companies or consumers. Brands need to stand for something more than a sentence full of adjectives."

He continued: "We live in such an exciting time with tools that can enable us to be iterative and work side-by-side with our clients on a daily basis. We should be there with our clients for their successes and failures." On partnering with Ashraf, Quinton and Roffers, he said: "We are committed to being creative optimists—real partners with our clients, creating work that starts with the customer, lives in the real world and solves real business problems.”

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