Brooker to Push Creative Focus

Naming chief creative officer Brian Brooker CEO of Barkley Evergreen & Partners is meant to underscore a commitment to the creative product, part of an ongoing effort to transform the shop’s image.

“If there’s a shot to put a new face on this agency, I believe that opportunity will come with a creative leading the charge versus a suit,” said former CEO Scott Aylward, who remains chairman of the $310 million Kansas City, Mo., shop and will continue to lead BE&P’s $40 million Sonic Drive-Ins account.

“This isn’t a case of phasing yourself out,” Aylward, 44, said. “It’s getting more dialed in to Sonic.”

Brought in to lead the agency’s Sonic account in 1995, Aylward quickly moved up the ranks to be-come president in 1996, then CEO in February 2001. Since joining the shop, he has helped bring in clients including Payless ShoeSource, Citgo and Dollar Rent-a-Car.

Aylward also has made a point of recruiting management talent from other agencies. Brooker joined the agency in 2000 from GSD&M in Austin, Texas. Earlier this year, the shop added chief strategist Ginny Shiverdecker from Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis and media strategist Knox Duncan from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore. Aylward credited that team with giving him the ability to step back.

“If you have a group of people that you trust, you don’t need to micromanage everything,” he said. He added that Brooker’s leadership of the creative department led him to believe he can lead the entire agency. “Why limit a guy’s ability to leading one department,” Aylward said.

As chief executive officer, Brooker said he will encourage creativity across all departments. “This isn’t as much a victory for the creative department as it is for creative ideas,” he said.

Despite the add-ed responsibilities, Brooker, who will remain president and chief creative officer, said he doesn’t think he’s overextended. “I just need to prioritize,” he said. “If the work starts to drop off, I won’t have done what I set out to do.”

Though he said he doesn’t expect to make sweeping changes at the agency, Brooker does want to broaden the creative product. “We’re extremely strong in the retail category. I’d like to extend the roster into more brand image work as well,” he said.