StrawberryFrog Taps President

NEW YORK Steve Hardwick, a former managing director at Interpublic Group who helped lead the Bank of America account when it was still within the holding company, has joined StrawberryFrog here as president and managing partner.

Hardwick, 44, also is getting a stake in the independent agency, though CEO Scott Goodson declined to disclose Hardwick’s share.

As president, Hardwick will play a leading role in new business efforts and client management. He joins a senior management team that includes executive creative director Kevin McKeon and Goodson, one of the agency’s founders.

The president’s post is new, although the New York office previously had a managing director, Joe McCarthy, who left last year.

Goodson, who considered a handful of candidates for the job, chose Hardwick because he shares a “passion for creating a cultural movement” and believes great ideas can come from any discipline. “The objective is an open room where things move faster,” said Goodson. “[To find] a smarter, faster way of doing things.”

Clients at the agency include Sam’s Club, Fortune, BMO Harris, Unisys and Microsoft. StrawberryFrog launched in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1999 and came to New York in 2004. The New York office now has 55 staffers.

They are “passionate people who really believe in doing something different,” said Hardwick, who consulted at the agency before taking the job. “It’s a combination of old-school passion and very modern thinking.”

At IPG, Hardwick served as chief deputy to Bruce Nelson, then chief marketing officer. At the time, some 16 IPG agencies worked on the BofA business.

“He was my number one guy,” Nelson said today. “He knows how all those [marketing] disciplines work” and that knowledge “allows him to understand the StrawberryFrog model.” Nelson added: “Steve had a great blend of being able to enthuse people but also respect people.”

The estimated $600 million BofA account shifted to a team of Omnicom Group agencies led by BBDO in August 2005, following a holding company shootout and an acrimonious split between Nelson and IPG.

Before IPG, Hardwick was a senior partner at the holding company’s Bozell unit, where he spent about six years, working on accounts such as BofA and Verizon Wireless. Earlier in his career, he worked on Miller Genuine Draft at Backer Spielvogel Bates and General Foods at Grey.