Hill, Holliday President Takes Top Post at Square One East
BOSTON–Fred Bertino is wrapping up a 10-year run at Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos to become a partner at Square One. Bertino trades in the president’s post at one of the top 15 agencies in the country to build from scratch an East Coast office for the 4-year-old Dallas agency.
Returning to Hill, Holliday as president and executive creative director is Mike Sheehan, 39, who just nine months ago moved to DDB Chicago to become lead creative on McDonald’s.
Sheehan, who recently completed his first campaign for McDonald’s tagged, “We love to make you smile,” expects to be back at Hill, Holliday by mid-July.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Sheehan, a Boston-area native who left Hill, Holliday more than a year ago saying he was burned out and who was said by sources to be in line for a larger role at DDB. “Sure, I’m going home, but it’s a great opportunity to lead a place that I have put heart and soul into.”
Sheehan won’t be the only president of Hill, Holliday, however. June Blocklin, 40, on a fast track since arriving from Young & Rubicam in 1998 first to run new business and last year named client services director, was also appointed president.
Together, Blocklin and Sheehan will run the Boston office reporting to agency chairman and chief executive officer Jack Connors. Rather than muddy the waters, the appointment of two presidents adds clarity, Sheehan said.
The restructuring comes at a critical time for Hill, Holliday. Major campaign initiatives are in the works for John Hancock Financial Services and Fleet, among others. The agency is one of three finalists for the $100 million H&R Block account and one of six shops vying for the estimated $100 million Computer Associates account.
Moreover, sources said that Fidelity Investments, one of the shop’s top accounts billing in excess of $100 million, is shaky, given management changes there and Hill, Holliday’s recent role in creating ads for Fidelity competitor Smith Barney. Hill, Holliday New York created ads for Smith Barney mutual funds where ex-Fidelity adman Steve Cone is now marketing director. Asked specifically about the Fidelity relationship, Connors said, “I think it’s fine.” He also noted that the work for Smith Barney is “over and done.”
The role of executive vice president Brian Carty, who runs new business and human resources, was unclear, although sources said he is weighing job offers outside the agency. Carty did not return a phone call seeking comment at press time; an agency representative said that Carty remained in charge of new business.
Connors began actively wooing Sheehan about four months ago following the abrupt resignation of creative director John Doig. Connors’ plan was to give Bertino oversight responsibility for Hill, Holliday’s New York and San Francisco offices while Sheehan ran the 60-plus creative department in Boston.
Even though Bertino, 42, said the timing of his decision “felt right,” his move at this juncture raised the question of whether he was pushed out. Connors and Bertino maintained it was Bertino’s decision to pursue a new venture. Bertino turned down an offer to be creative director for Hill, Holliday USA overseeing the New York and San Francisco offices. “Fred didn’t want to do that,” Connors said, “and that’s the unvarnished truth.”
At Square One, Bertino reunites with Jamie Mambro who more than a year ago left Hill, Holliday and earlier this year [Adweek, Feb. 21] announced plans to open an office here for Square One, its first outside Dallas. Both Mambro and Bertino become partners with equity stakes in the shop.
“Hill, Holliday is high RPMs,” Bertino said of his decision to leave. “It’s been a wild 10 years growing from $400 million to $1.2 billion. … I leave with a good sense of accomplishment.” Among his achievements was restoring account planning, overseeing the development of the first global ad campaign for PricewaterhouseCoopers and landing the $40 million Dunkin’ Donuts business two years ago.
Also last week, Hill, Holliday named former account executive Stever Aubrey general manager, and Laurel Rossi was boosted to run integrated marketing services, including design, direct and interactive, for Hill, Holliday’s three offices, including GMO/Hill, Holliday in San Francisco. Aubrey’s primary responsibility is to provide training and development for the agency’s nearly 1,000 employees, Connors said. K