Wieden + Kennedy New York Names New Creative Leader After 2 Big Departures

Karl Lieberman will relocate from agency's Portland headquarters

Less than a week after its top two creative leaders announced that they would be stepping down after relatively short tenures, Wieden + Kennedy New York named its newest executive creative director in an internal promotion.

Karl Lieberman, who has been with the indie agency's Portland office since 2008, will relocate to the East Coast to lead its creative team in Manhattan. 

Last week, W+K announced that both David Kolbusz (a veteran of BBH London and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) and Jaime Robinson (formerly with Pereria & O'Dell) would be leaving their roles after tenures of a year and a half and less than eight months, respectively. One day later, the reasons behind one of those departures became clear as Droga5 named the British-born Kolbusz as its new chief creative officer in London. 

That move followed the August hiring of Grey veteran Bill Scott to serve as CEO of Droga5 London as the agency aims to strengthen its U.K. operations after shuttering its sole office in founder David Droga's native Australia.

When the announcement first broke, a Wieden + Kennedy spokesperson told Adweek that global ecd Colleen DeCourcy would partner with New York managing director Neal Arthur to fill the roles vacated by Kolbusz and Robinson—but that interim period was far shorter than some may have expected.

Lieberman joined W+K Portland as a copywriter in 2008 and was promoted to the creative director role two years later after working with some of the agency's best-known clients. During his time with Wieden he has contribued to such campaigns as Procter & Gamble's 2012 Olympics effort "Thank You, Mom," which went on to win an Emmy. Other work includes multi-platform campaigns for Nike, Old Spice, Target and Facebook, among others;

Lieberman has also served as creative director for the agency's ongoing KFC campaign starring a "reinvigorated" Colonel Sanders after the agency won the account (which had been with FCB for a decade) in Februrary.

Before joining W+K, Lieberman served as both a copywriter and art director (a rare feat in the ad world) at TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, Mother New York and Euro RSCG/Havas, where he co-created Dos Equis' iconic The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Regarding the promotion, Arthur says, "Karl is a creative force, and the perfect person to take the reins of this office during an exciting point in its history."

DeCourcy adds, "We are fortunate that the planets aligned to bring him back to New York."

Liberman tells Adweek: "Things have been great in Portland. I loved my bosses, my partner, our team, our clients and my home. I'm assuming this promotion is a clerical error, but I'm just going to go with it."

This is not the only recent dramatic change for Wieden + Kennedy. In a move that surprised many in the agency world, Bud Light shifted its $350 million account from BBDO to the shop's New York office in July just over three months before parent company AB InBev announced its decision to merge with chief rival MillerCoors.