Ex-Riney, Ground Zero Exec Souder Joins GMMB

NEW YORK Kirk Souder, former president of Publicis & Hal Riney and co-founder of Ground Zero, has joined Omnicom advocacy agency GMMB as executive creative director and partner.

Managing partner Raelynn Olson said Souder’s addition in the newly created position is part of the agency’s effort to continuously improve its creative product. “We’re always looking for ways to improve the creative offering of the firm,” Olson said, explaining that she was impressed with not only “the work he’s done [but] the kind of person he is, and where his heart is.”

Souder, who will initially shuttle between the agency’s Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., offices, was most recently freelancing for agencies and clients through the creative consultancy Granite Pass. Souder formed the Topanga, Calif.-based company with former Ground Zero director of design Greg Beauchamp after Souder left his position at Riney in 2004. At that time, Souder went back to school to get a graduate degree in psychology.

One of his creative projects — a long-form documentary — helped him redefine his career objectives, he said. The film followed his program, “Freedom to Choose,” run in cooperation with the University of Santa Monica, to teach personal responsibility to inmates at a maximum-security women’s prison.

The film convinced a rehabilitation board to implement “Freedom to Choose” at facilities throughout California — and require guards and parole-board personnel to participate in the program as well. He said that experience inspired him to use media “in the arena of really impacting change. This is a whole new level of using what I like to do.”

GMMB’s clients include the Save Darfur Coalition, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and MADD, among others.