Wieden + Kennedy New York managing director Buz Sawyer is exiting the agency he has called home for much of the last 20 years.
As managing director, Sawyer had led the office since 2001. Its top clients include ESPN, Disney, Nike and Delta Air Lines. Roughly 190 staffers work at the shop, including about 35 in media planning and buying.
Wieden is searching for Sawyer’s successor and will consider both internal and external candidates, according to an agency representative. His last day is March 31.
Sawyer, 56, first joined the Portland, Ore., office of Wieden in 1990 as a management supervisor on Nike. In 1992, he was among six executives who opened the shop’s first international office, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He assumed the role of managing director there and remained for six years before accepting an offer to run the San Francisco office of Interpublic Group’s Lowe. Lowe closed that office in May 2001, paving the way for Sawyer’s return to Wieden.
Earlier in his career, he held account management posts at BBDO in New York and N.W. Ayer in New York.
In a statement, Wieden global chief operating officer Dave Luhr described Sawyer as a “true pillar” at the independent agency. Sawyer, in turn, said he had “benefitted greatly from the opportunities and challenges that this journey has afforded me.”
Sawyer is leaving without another job and intends to take some time to determine his next move, noting that his family would take precedence initially.
“I’m going to take some time off [but] I fully plan to reengage,” Sawyer said.