Saari Leaves Agency’s N.Y. Office to Be Creative Chief in Atlanta
ATLANTA–The last step in the transition of senior management at the Atlanta office of Ogilvy & Mather took place last week with Steve Saari being named executive creative director.
Saari assumes the top creative role formerly held by Ian Latham, who took control of the agency when former managing partner Neill Cameron left at the end of last year. Cameron accepted a job with his alma mater, Clemson University, in South Carolina.
“Steve will be my partner in running the office,” Latham said last week. “I’m out of creative completely. It’s now his job to shape and craft and build our creative future.”
Latham has been juggling both jobs while the search for his replacement took place.
Saari, who places his age as “younger than the Quaid brothers, but older than the Hanson brothers,” was recruited from the New York office of Ogilvy, where he had been working as a roving creative troubleshooter within the agency.
“I’d left [Lawler Ballard Van Durand] in Birmingham [Ala.] in late summer,” he said. “I’d been recruited by Ogilvy in New York to work on various assignments. Right after I got there Neill Cameron retired, Ian got his job and the executive creative director’s job opened up. I knew I didn’t want to stay in New York forever.”
Working in Latham’s favor was the fact that Saari had worked in the city before (at what was then Tucker Wayne/Luckie & Co.) and liked it. Plus, a northern winter was arriving [in New York].
“Work is work,” Saari said. “But I’d rather be doing good work in a place I like, than a place I have to put up with.”
Saari’s big break in advertising was landing a job with the New York office of Bozell in 1990, where he spent five years. He credits that time with his learning how to work on major clients’ accounts. During that period Saari started an after-hours agency called Underdog to nurture his creative spirit.
“We got some pieces in The One Show and other places and it helped take my work to another level,” he said. From there Saari went to Lawler Ballard in 1995, where he helped establish that agency’s creative reputation before joining Ogilvy & Mather last year.
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