B-R Taps Oviatt for ECD Post

Arlo Oviatt said he plans to draw upon his experience as a professor at the University of Kansas in the mid-1990s in his new position as Bernstein-Rein’s executive creative director.

“I love teaching,” Oviatt said. “I think there are ways of focusing on the work that teach people about what’s good and what makes it good.”

Oviatt comes to the Kansas City, Mo., agency from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in his native St. Louis, which ceased operations earlier this year. His new job represents his second stint at B-R. He worked there as a group creative director in the late 1990s before moving to crosstown shop NKH&W in 1999. Both jobs followed his work at the university, where he taught advertising creativity and portfolio development.

“Arlo is respectful of our history, yet has a definite vision for our future,” said the agency’s chief operating officer, Steve Bernstein. “Not only does he have outstanding credentials, but he has a passion to pass that talent and knowledge on to others.”

Oviatt assumes command of day-to-day operations for the agency’s 60-person creative de-partment from Jeff Bremser, who will re-main with the shop as chief creative director. Bremser’s focus will shift to the agency’s overall creative strategy.

Oviatt said he plans to use Bremser’s experience. “It gives me a place to go if I need a sounding board or a second opinion,” he said.

Armed with some previous knowledge of the agency and its clients, Oviatt said he will begin “regrouping and orienting” the department and its account roster, which is dominated by mass merchant Wal-Mart.

“I think the perception is we have some major brands and we do good work for them,” Oviatt said. “I think the perception should be that we have some [specialities] and we do excellent work for them.”

Though he declined to offer details, Oviatt said some changes would be in place by year’s end. He did not expect any wholesale hirings or firings, however.

“I want the department to feel they know me, and I know them,” he said. “This place is full of people with a lot of talent and potential.”

Oviatt joined D’Arcy’s St. Louis office in April 2000 as a group creative director on the agency’s M&M/Mars account and its Whiskas cat food business. Those accounts were among the few remaining at the shop when it closed in April after several years of struggling with client defections.