Wieden + Kennedy has appointed New York Managing Director Neal Arthur and Executive Creative Director Karl Lieberman to global roles as Chief Operations Officer and Chief Creative Officer, respectively.
The duo will partner with Colleen DeCourcy, who will continue to serve as President as the global CCO. DeCourcy was previously co-president of Tom Blessington, who is assuming the role of chairman. Blessington replaces Dave Luhr, who will retire at the end of 2020. All of these steps will take effect on January 1, 2021.
WKNY has had major victories like Ford, McDonald’s, Michelob Ultra, Kraft Heinz and Duracell and has enlivened the New York business of the indies. In addition, for four consecutive years, Arthur and Lieberman’s office had the best revenue growth since it opened in 1995.
Adweek’s 2019 US Agency of the Year New York operation has gained momentum by moving out of the shadow of the Portland mothership and holding out more than its own. According to Lieberman, the spirit of this forward dynamic will spread to the global network of offices in Amsterdam, London, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo, while also enabling individuality.
“There’s a dynamic, but we’re not trying to export the style of the New York office,” Lieberman said. “The nice thing about this company is that each office in the network can stand for itself. New York doesn’t have to be Portland. Shanghai doesn’t have to be London. We always try to share what works in one place and whether it can be useful for others. “
While these steps are pragmatic and practical, Arthur found that internal energy is a critical component to the network’s success.
“It doesn’t change the daily energy,” he said. “But it’s an opportunity to channel the spiritual energy of the place so that we can take action and together create works that are bigger than advertising.”
Arthur joined W + K in 2005 and was head of strategic planning before becoming managing director. During his tenure, sales have doubled and WKNY has become a desirable landing spot for talent. Outside the agency, Arthur is chairman of the board of the Ghetto Film School.
“W + K has played a big role in our lives because it’s not just a place or a job,” he said. “It’s a culture that has allowed us to be ourselves, to express ourselves and to use work to say something.”
Operationally, Blessington noted that some of the more pressing concerns and challenges involve obvious factors like Covid-19, but talent is a critical way forward.
“[We’re] Finding ways to expand our service offerings to ensure that we not only meet our customers’ needs but also stay competitive, ”he said. “Our reputation as an agency is based on the strength of our creative and strategic product. To further strengthen and develop this reputation, we need to bring more diverse talent with different perspectives into our group. “
Lieberman landed at the agency’s Portland headquarters in 2008 and was part of some of the business’s best-known work for P&G and KFC. He ran campaigns like “Thank You Mom” for the CPG giant and brought Colonel Sanders back. Before W + K, Lieberman was best known for helping to create “The Interesting Man in the World” for Dos Equis.
“Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t even get an interview at Wieden. That’s why it’s as surreal as it is fantastic to be in this position,” he said. “This place has always pushed me. Now it’s my turn to give more people the opportunities, inspiration and trust that Wieden has given me over the years. “