- SAN FRANCISCO
Mike Wente has been named chief creative officer of San Francisco-based Swirl mcgarrybowen. In his new role, Wente will lead creative teams focused on delivering breakthrough brand experiences in a digitally connected age for clients including Intel, Clorox, Microsoft, Dole, Juniper, Conduent, CA Technologies, and eBay. Wente will report to mcgarrybowen U.S. chief creative officer Ned Crowley.
Most recently, Wente was with VML for more than a decade. He was named co-chief creative officer, North America in 2017.
Wente’s creative experience stretches across global brands in technology, sports, entertainment, media, consumer electronics, automotive, CPG, and retail verticals, including New Balance, Motorola, AMC, Miami Tourism, International Olympic Committee, NBA, LEGOLAND, Tyson Foods, MasterCard, and Dell. His work has been awarded with Cannes Lions, D&AD, Clios, London International Awards, Webbys, and the One Show.
When mcgarrybowen acquired Swirl last December, it transformed its West Coast presence from an outpost to a full-spectrum creative innovation shop that lives at the intersection of innovation, technology, and human engagement. The acquisition grew the agency in size and essentially created a new entity, exponentially expanding its capabilities in digital and social-first marketing, branded content, and eCRM.
John Berg, partner at Swirl and current CEO of Swirl mcgarrybowen, said of Wente,, “We are fortunate to have found someone who is a digital native, but who is focused on meeting the challenges of our clients with ideas, not channels. That’s what makes Mike the ideal creative partner as we elevate the power of our new combined entity.”
Over the past year, mcgarrybowen has been on a renaissance, dramatically growing revenues in the past year with strong organic and new business growth, landing American Express, Subway, Verizon, Marriott, Dole, and Conduent, among others. Accolades are rolling in for recent creative work, like the American Express campaign featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda; Oscar Mayer’s innovative brand actions, including the first bacon-backed cryptocurrency, Bacoin; and for the surprisingly bold work for Subway in the newest “Take a Break from the Burger” campaign.
Crowley also doubled down on mcgarrybowen’s commitment to creativity by infusing new talent alongside a strong creative bench of seasoned pros. Besides Wente, recent hires include Matt Ian, joining from Droga5 as CCO of mcgarrybowen NY; Julie Scelzo from Pandora as global ECD on American Express; and Justin Walsh from BBDO as mcgarrybowen NY’s new chief design officer.
Crowley explained why Wente was the right creative leader for San Francisco, “Mike is that rare creative talent—a platform thinker with a true talent for extending ideas into every fiber of a company, carrying them to the world and culture outside. What we saw in Mike was a strong creative leader who knew how to win awards and build an office, but also values the importance of an agency’s culture. That was really important to us as we continue to grow and evolve with our West Coast partners at Swirl mcgarrybowen.”
Crowley added, “Hey, Mike’s been a New Yorker, so we knew we had something good going to entice him to move across the country.”
Wente said, “I have long admired mcgarrybowen because of their reputation in building big creative platforms for some of the world’s biggest brands. When I saw the acquisition of Swirl it signaled their continued transformation and a great creative opportunity. mcgarrybowen has demonstrated momentum in recent years across the board, and I genuinely believe that the San Francisco office is poised culturally and creatively to accelerate continued growth and be a real star in the network.”
Wente will join Swirl mcgarrybowen’s leadership team headed by CEO Berg; Tasha McVeigh, chief culture officer; Kate Walters, executive planning director, head of strategy; Rob Chen, managing director, media services; and newly appointed U.S. chief innovation officer, Greg Johnson.