• Monday, Aug. 3, 2020
VMLY&R hires Walter Geer as ECD, experience design
Walter Geer
NEW YORK -- 

VMLY&R has appointed Walter Geer as executive creative director, experience design, in its rapidly expanding customer experience practice. Geer will be based out of New York and will work closely with Jason Xenopoulos, CEO of New York and co-CCO of North America. Geer will report to Eric Looney, chief experience design officer who leads the agency’s experience design practice in North America.

Geer will drive the creation of innovative design solutions within VMLY&R’s connected health practice and help lead the transformation of talent and capability across this high-growth group.

With over $100 million in health revenue in 2019, VMLY&R’s health practice is rated among the industry’s top 20 global health agencies. In the long term, Geer will also work to synergize brand and customer experiences across a broader range of clients such as Dell Technologies, Campbell Snacks, Pfizer and New Balance.

Geer joins VMLY&R from TBWA\WorldHealth where he held the position of SVP, group creative director, digital experience and innovation. Recently, Savoy Magazine named him to its list of 2020 Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America. He is most known in the advertising space for creating compelling mobile advertising experiences that have reinvented and revitalized the way brands and advertisers connect with consumers through a multitude of digital platforms.

A 20-year veteran of the digital advertising space, Geer holds a total of six U.S. patents for digital ad formats, and has developed ad products and implemented creative strategies for a variety of publishers and leading technology and media companies including Google, Viacom, The New York Times and MySpace. Geer has architected market-first usability labs, applying biometric research to the development of creative executions and minimizing risk by understanding how consumer emotions and demographics impact brand engagement.

Prior to TBWA\WorldHealth, Geer was VP and creative director at Verve where he ran design and engineering teams responsible for the company’s creative production and innovation. He joined Verve from PointRoll (Gannett) where he was VP of product strategy.

  • Friday, Jul. 31, 2020
Droga5 London promotes Shelley Smoler to exec creative director
Shelley Smoler
LONDON -- 

Droga5 London has promoted multi-award-winning Shelley Smoler from group creative director to executive creative director.

Smoler will lead the creative department, oversee pitches, and work across all of the agency’s clients, with a specific focus on Amazon. She will also help lead the agency’s approach to its mentorship and diversity programs. She reports into Droga5 London’s chief creative officer David Kolbusz.

Smoler has recently been nominated for an Emmy for her work on Droga5’s Super Bowl commercial “Before Alexa.” At Droga5, she has led Amazon Alexa globally, Amazon Prime in the U.S. and Amazon Prime Video in Europe and the U.K. She was also part of the team that created “Metatronia” for Uniqlo, a performance piece created in collaboration with Solange Knowles and displayed at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Smoler has won over 50 awards, including a D&AD Black Pencil and a Cannes Lions Grand Prix, for her campaign for The Zimbabwean newspaper in South Africa that took on Robert Mugabe’s regime by using the country’s almost worthless bank notes to make billboard ads.

The campaign, created by Smoler and her team while she worked at South African agency TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris/Johannesburg, made history. As well as winning the industry’s most prestigious awards, also including two Grand Clios and the ADC’s first-ever Black Cube, the posters are part of the permanent collection in both the British Museum and the Design Museum.

Smoler first joined Droga5 in 2017 as creative director and was promoted a year later to group creative director. Prior to Droga5, she was a creative director at BBH and worked across the agency’s full client roster, including the Guardian, Audi, Google, Heineken, KFC and Mentos. BBH hired Smoler in 2015 from TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris/Johannesburg where she was creative group head.

Smoler said, “I am lucky enough to be working alongside the nicest, most talented and creatively ambitious group of people on the planet. I’m looking forward to continuing to help grow and shape the creative department and be inspired by them in equal measure.”

Kolbusz shared, “To describe Shelley as “essential as food or drink” would undervalue her contribution and undersell how joyful an experience it is to work with her. She is brilliant, strategic, methodical, thorough, kind, and perhaps most essentially - she has impeccable taste. The agency will be stronger for her leadership.”

  • Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020
Brenda Fell joins DAVID Miami as exec producer
Brenda Fell
MIAMI -- 

Brenda Fell has returned to DAVID, this time as executive producer in its Miami office. She comes over from Leo Burnett Chicago. Fell had earlier in her career served as head of production at DAVID Buenos Aires. 

Her addition is the latest in a recent infusion of talent at DAVID Miami that has included global chief strategy officer Paula Vampré, sr. copywriter Sarah Dembkowski and sr. art director Georgia Taylor. Fell will work collaboratively alongside EP Carlos Torres and report to managing director Ricardo Honegger.

Fell will co-lead the production department with Torres, overseeing all global clients such as Burger King and Halls. At DAVID’s Buenos Aires office she worked on award-winning campaigns including MACMA’s “Man Boobs,” which raised awareness for breast cancer, and the Unilever campaigns “Speeches” and “Farewell to the Forest.”

Fell left DAVID Buenos Aires in 2017 to move to the U.S. and diversify her experience which now spans experiential, AR/VR content and much more. She had stints not only at Leo Burnett but also at the community. In her 15-year career, Fell has worked at agencies including Ponce Buenos Aires and DDB, shooting all over the world for global brands like Coca-Cola, Verizon and Allstate, among many others. Her work has been honored with the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions, and recognition from the D&AD, The One Show, Clio Awards, London International Awards, and New York Festivals Advertising Awards competitions.

  • Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020
James Mejía named CEO of Denver Film
James Mejia
DENVER -- 

James Mejia has been appointed CEO of Denver Film, the non-profit cultural institution that produces the award-winning Denver Film Festival, the popular summertime series Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, and provides year-round film programming and education at the Sie FilmCenter. Selected after a comprehensive national search that attracted strong applicants from across the United States, the Denver native will begin serving in his new role on Aug. 10. 

Mejia brings a 25-year career to Denver Film. As CEO, he will be responsible for directing Denver Film’s overall operations, program delivery, outreach efforts and fundraising. In addition, Mejia will help guide the vision for Denver Film and build upon the organization’s 42-year history of community and industry impact.

He comes to the organization following nine years of operating his own business and political consulting firm, as well as the past three years serving as managing partner of Pan American Business where he helped diverse organizations access new markets across Colorado. 

“After some very high profile and significant challenges and successes in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to spend the better part of the past decade running a business where I’ve enjoyed premium flexibility of my time to raise my kids and bring our family to a point that I can now jump back into the fray of running one of our city’s major cultural institutions,” said Mejia who is the father of three children. “I’ve watched and admired Denver Film’s impact on this community for decades and I’m excited to bring my skills and experiences to a team of talented professionals as we help grow and expand this organization in the decades to come. When the diverse cultural patrons of our community look at their annual memberships and charitable commitments, I want Denver Film at the top of their list, right up there with the Denver Zoo, Art Musuem, the Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Nature and Science.”

Earlier in his career, Mejia was recruited by former Denver Mayors John Hickenlooper and Wellington Webb to lead and manage some of the city’s most important, complex and challenging agencies and capital projects. He served as the founding president/CEO of the nationally-recognized Denver Preschool Program, as well as project manager for the $425 million bond project to build the Denver Justice Center. 

Mejia has also served as manager for the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation; deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade; executive director for the Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations; as well as president/COO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His 2011 Mayoral run ended with Mejia in third place among the 10 candidates in what was Denver’s closest Mayoral race in history.

“James impressed our search committee, our board and our staff the way he has impressed our business, political and cultural communities throughout his career,” said Kevin Teng, chair of the Denver Film Board of Directors and the CEO search committee. “He defines commitment and dedication and his accomplishments and proven reputation, as well as his vision for how Denver Film and its programs can expand to impact even larger, diverse audiences, pushed him to the forefront of what was a very competitive field of candidates. Our board was unanimous in approving his appointment.”

A lifelong volunteer and community servant, Mejia was the first Latino elected citywide to serve a four-year role as at-large member of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. In addition, he has received numerous honors for his service and leadership on board and committees for some of the region’s most prominent organizations, foundations and charitable causes.

“From his work behind the scenes to playing a leading role, James is a highly respected and proven collaborator and leader in our community that delivers an understanding, appreciation and vision for Denver Film and the opportunities we have to help further define our city’s cultural influence,” said Denver Film Festival Director Britta Erickson.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 28, 2020
Renata Florio named chief creative officer of Ogilvy Health
Renata Florio
NEW YORK -- 

Renata Florio has joined Ogilvy Health as chief creative officer (CCO). She will have creative oversight of all of the agency’s U.S.-based offices. Florio comes over from Ogilvy’s New York office where she served as a global executive creative director overseeing creative for its health and wellness offerings for the past three years.

Florio brings a wealth of experience both within and outside of the healthcare marketing arena, having created and executed campaigns for major consumer and healthcare brands. With her extensive international marketing experience acquired over the course of her 25-year career, Florio has been responsible for brand campaigns in more than 80 countries covering all media channels. Florio will report to Andrew Schirmer and work closely with Kate Cronin in their roles as co-presidents of Ogilvy Health.

Florio is a highly decorated creative force with widespread recognition from some of the most prestigious creative competitions in the industry, including Cannes Lions, the Effie Awards, CLIO Awards, One Show Awards, London International Awards, and the New York Festivals Advertising Awards. Florio was acknowledged as one of the Extraordinary Women in the Makers@Ogilvy competition. Additionally, she has served as a jury member for Cannes Lions, One Show and the New York Festivals competitions.

  • Monday, Jul. 27, 2020
Mower adds SVP/CD Baron, account director Chapman
Michael Baron
NEW YORK -- 

Independent advertising, marketing, and public relations agency Mower has added two seasoned industry vets to its roster, naming Michael Baron as sr. VP and creative director for the agency’s Buffalo, Rochester, and Boston offices and Kelly Chapman as account director for both the Buffalo and Rochester offices.

Baron, who was with Mower earlier in his career, most recently served as the executive creative director at Partners + Napier where he oversaw creative work for clients including BMW Financial Services, Corelle Brands, and Highmark Health.

Baron’s work has been recognized by The One Show, The Tellys, Effie Worldwide, and the ADDYS—where he recently took home his second consecutive Best of Broadcast Award for Highmark’s “Six Words” campaign. Prior to joining Partners + Napier, Baron also spent time at Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R, and Hill Holliday.

Chapman also joins Mower from Partners + Napier, where she helped to create and lead the agency’s Health & Wellness vertical. She has deep experience with a variety of healthcare accounts, including insurers, providers, and OTC, and will lead Mower’s healthcare specialty practice.

Her responsibilities will also include driving growth in the Buffalo and Rochester markets, as well as contributing to other new business and organic growth initiatives. Chapman, the past president of the Rochester Advertising Federation, will remain on the board and is actively seeking opportunities to support the Buffalo advertising community.

Mower has nine offices located in New York City; Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; and Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Syracuse, NY.

  • Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2020
Ester Harding joins Sweetshop & Green as development exec
Ester Harding
MELBOURNE, Australia -- 

Sweetshop & Green has appointed Ester Harding as development executive across its Australia and New Zealand operations.

Harding will join recently appointed development executive Katy Roberts, and will be responsible for identifying and leading the development of Australian and New Zealand narrative and documentary projects, with a focus on international co-productions intended for a global market. Harding will nurture talent relationships and oversee slated projects throughout creative development into production and distribution. 

Harding is a screen producer. Her most recent role was with Screen Australia as a development exec. Prior to this, she produced with See Pictures the award-nominated short Remembering Agatha for writer, director and artist Emma Magenta (Adelaide FF/ABC Arts co-commission). Harding co-produced feature comedy Swinging Safari for writer, director Stephan Elliott; and she was a production executive on the adaptation of Tim Winton’s best-selling novel, “Breath,” for writer, director Simon Baker. Her career spans drama, documentary (I Am A Girl, The Surgery Ship) and interactive projects (Storm Surfers "4D," After Six-Four), together with teaching (MetroScreen, AFTRS, ICE) and community management (StoryCode, Screen Producers Australia NSW Chapter).

Gal Greenspan, co-managing director of Sweetshop & Green, said, “Ester joins us with an absolute wealth of experience that exactly fits with Sweetshop & Green’s sensibilities and ambitions for film and TV series in a topical and diverse arena. She will be integral in producing content that will arouse discussion and connect with audiences on an international level.”

Harding said, “It is an honor to join Sweetshop & Green, a company poised for global reach. While the industry is in flux, we share a constancy of creative ambition and social values. I’m excited by the challenge and opportunity to build relationships with international co-producing partners, to collaborate across our slate of projects. Together, we will focus on bringing distinctive screen stories from diverse creators to local and international audiences.”

  • Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2020
Oliver Fuselier joins Great Guns USA as managing director/EP
Oliver Fuselier
LOS ANGELES -- 

International production company Great Guns has named Oliver Fuselier managing director and executive producer for the U.S.

Fuselier’s 20-years-plus career has seen him produce for and manage high-profile talent including directors Michael Bay, Danielle Levitt, David Fincher, Alma Har’el, Jaci Judleson and Mike Mills. His work has been recognized at numerous awards ceremonies, including winning a Palme d’Or for Production Company of the Year at Cannes Lions and two Emmys. He has also served on juries for Cannes Lions, LIAs, AICP, and Ciclope and is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Fuselier joins Great Guns USA from L.A.-based production company Keeper (formally known as Eskimo) where his role as MD, partner, and strategic consultant saw him orchestrate numerous projects end-to-end, leverage relationships with talented creatives, and fuel revenue growth. 

Prior to this, he was managing partner, live action at Tool of North America for eight years. During this time he oversaw every component of Tool’s operations, working closely with creatives across production to drive innovation and compelling storytelling.

In his new role at Great Guns, Fuselier will strive to keep “creative first,” raising the profile of the company’s global roster of talent in the U.S. and continuing to highlight the importance of diverse perspectives in production--championing the notion that talent is defined not only by the director but influencers, artists, innovators, and technicians. He will search for U.S.-based and global directors and artists, supporting the roster by sourcing creative opportunities wherever the path leads. He will confront, support, and keep talking about the efforts that need to be made in the industry and its approach to discovering talent and new partners.

Laura Gregory, founder of Great Guns, said, “We’d been planning our expansion in America for many months before the impact of coronavirus rippled across the globe. The U.S. now faces a more challenging future than we had imagined, so we couldn’t have asked for a better person to be on board to help our clients. It’s always been our philosophy to support young talent and Oliver’s ambitions fit perfectly with the ethos we’ve built across the years. He will no doubt push our global reach to new heights whilst making us question everything in order to drive forward.”

Fuselier is enthused over joining Great Guns where he will set out to help “continue the growth of a company where Laura has been such a trailblazer when it comes to supporting global talent. Great Guns’ incredible roster is testament to this – I’m looking forward to showing the U.S. ad community what we can offer. Clients and agencies are having to adjust to completely new ways of working and I believe with Great Guns’ capabilities we can help them navigate these challenges while offering a more innovative, inclusive approach to production. Now truly is the time for industry to embrace these changes and refocus on what is important in this day and age--we want to be at the forefront of this.”

  • Tuesday, Jul. 14, 2020
Gail Anderson, Sherina Florence appointed to One Club’s board of directors
Sherina Florence
NEW YORK -- 

The One Club for Creativity has enhanced diversity within its leadership with the appointments of Gail Anderson, chair of BFA Design and BFA Advertising at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and Sherina Florence, creative director at Ogilvy, New York, to its national board of directors.

Anderson and Florence were nominated by David Baldwin, head of Baldwin&, Raleigh, and Steve Sandstrom, creative director, designer and founder at Sandstrom Partners, Portland, who decided to step down from the board after each serving for nearly 20 years.

“Gail and Sherina are dynamic, respected leaders who will help us in our mission to support the global creative community,” said Kevin Swanepoel, CEO, The One Club.  “Diversity makes for a better organization, and enhances the programming and support we provide to the industry.  We’ll continue to take meaningful action on this front, and challenge other agencies, brands and organizations to do the same.”

More than 60% of The One Club board is made up of women and people of color.

Board responsibilities include providing input and feedback on the club’s more than two dozen annual professional development, education, inclusion & diversity and gender equality programs, connecting the club with advertising and design universities and schools, and recommending outstanding creative candidates to serve on juries for The One Show and ADC Annual Awards.

“I’m excited to work on The One Club education initiatives that can elevate our BIPOC colleagues and students worldwide, and help provide a more robust voice for all communities of color,” Anderson said.

“The One Club’s global impact on advertising is unparalleled,” said Florence.  “I’m honored to be joining a long legacy of distinguished creative leaders who’ve served the board, and humbled by David Baldwin’s choice to step down after 20 years of service. Both David and Steve are icons who have once again created space for more fresh perspectives. Thanks to the entire board for the appointment, I look forward to contributing for years to come.”

“We had the luxury of a tremendous list of candidates to fill our seats but Sherina and Gail stood out from all of them,” said Baldwin, who joined the Board in 2000.  “They are going to make a tremendous impact on the club’s future.”  

“It’s been a tremendous honor to have served on The One Club Board,” said Sandstrom, who has been on since 2003.  “I believe Gail’s and Sherina’s exceptional talent, wisdom and experience will add substantially to the club’s character and mission.”

  • Friday, Jul. 10, 2020
WarnerMedia Entertainment promotes Gagne, Jennings
Jackie Gagne
NEW YORK -- 

Jackie Gagne will be promoted from VP, Multicultural Marketing, HBO to SVP, Multicultural Marketing, WarnerMedia Entertainment, and Richard Jennings from VP, Design + Production, HBO to SVP, Design + Production, WarnerMedia Entertainment. Gagne and Jennings are based in New York and will continue to report to Lucinda Martinez, EVP of Multicultural Marketing, Brand & Inclusion Strategy, WarnerMedia Entertainment.
 
Since the consolidation of the Brand, Multicultural, International and Design + Production teams into one department earlier this year, the group has overcome a variety of challenges in order to support WME’s strategic priorities and the demands of an increased portfolio.
 
For the past six years, Gagne has been instrumental in establishing HBO’s multicultural marketing strategy and has succeeded in helping develop a unique team. From Game of Thrones to 2 Dope Queens, Insecure and On The Record, she has overseen an extensive list of audience-led, culturally relevant campaign initiatives and targeted brand experiences. Her team was recently named a “Center of Expertise” within WarnerMedia, and has begun sharing best practices across the company’s brand portfolio.
 
In addition to supporting HBO’s programming franchises, Gagne has used the multicultural platform to amplify diverse voices and uplift storytellers through a variety of initiatives, including HBO POV, which celebrates the diversity of the behind-the-scenes talent that brings HBO’s programming to life; the HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries short film competition for emerging directors of Asian and/or Pacific Islander descent; and most recently, the “Our Stories to Tell” campaign, aimed at engaging and servicing diverse audiences through multicultural programming and relatable storytelling. In her expanded role, Gagne will lead the launch of audience hubs on HBO MAX designed to super-serve various multicultural audiences later this year.
 
Gagne and her team will continue driving audience-led campaigns and best practices across the WME portfolio via innovative strategies to maximize market segment engagement. She will also work closely with Enterprise Inclusion to develop an inclusive brand narrative.
 
Jennings was recruited to HBO from Warner Music Group, in 2013, to rebuild the Design + Production group and services. He’s positioned the D+P group as a premier one-stop shop for design and creative development, branding, environmental, copywriting, OOH production and project management.
 
The team services HBO, HBO Max, and Max Originals, as well as partners and collaborates with all WarnerMedia verticals.  Currently, the team is partnering with AT&T to develop assets for the launch and ongoing creative support for the Discovery District in Dallas.
 
In the fall of 2019, Jennings earned an MFA in Graphic Design. In his new expanded role, Jennings will oversee Environmental Design for WarnerMedia Entertainment (Hudson Yards, Burbank, Santa Monica, Ivy Station and Seattle), internal Key Art design resources across the portfolio, HBO Max Merchandise Production, Design Standards and Style Guides.

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