Tom O’Keefe, who returned to his Windy City roots

Tom O’Keefe, who returned to his Windy City roots as the new executive creative director at Foote, Cone & Belding here last week, intends to turn around the shop’s recent rocky fortunes by embracing its packaged-goods reputation.

“What we’ve got to do is be the best at what we do,” said O’Keefe. “It’s packaged goods. It’s about being the strongest and best at that.”

The ecd position had been vacant since Bob Dreveny left the shop shortly after its $350 million Quaker business moved to Omnicom a year ago. O’Keefe, 39, left the Chicago office in 1999 to join FCB San Francisco, where he was named ecd last year. Several candidates are being interviewed for that post.

O’Keefe spent most of the ’90s at FCB Chicago and worked on Quaker Oats, as well as Coors Brewing Co. He is perhaps best known for Amazon.com’s Christmas 1999 “Sweat ermen” spots. More recently he over saw the “Think outside of the bun” work for Taco Bell.

“Tom’s a malcontent,” said world wide creative director Jona than Harries. “That’s what makes him fantastic.”

While FCB’s creative reputation is spotty, both Harries and O’Keefe hold up the recent Coors Light “Rock on” work and spots for Circuit City to argue the shop is capable of standout work. “I think we have to do a better job of raising the profile of the work we do that is great,” O’Keefe said.

The loss of Quaker Oats was the start of a rocky year for the agency. About 150 employees have been shown the door, and a Coors Brewing review this summer brought Deutsch and Arnold on board the $200 million account, which was previously all FCB’s.

Harries said the shop does not feel it is girding for battle with Deutsch and Arnold. “The enemy is the other beer companies,” Har ries said. Still, he acknowledged, “Crea tive people always like to be pushed.”

O’Keefe said of Coors, “We all feel a challenge, no doubt.”

Separately, the shop reorganized its new-business team, naming evp, president of FCBi Zain Raj to the new post of chief growth officer. Raj will work with a “growth group” of senior executives to determine how new and potential clients can grow.

Its focus will be “about the client’s growth, instead of a big show” by the agency, said CEO Dana Anderson.