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Cheil CEO Sawyer Makes First Major Hire

Recruits former TM exec Weaver to run One Agency
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Four months in as Cheil North America's chief executive, Buz Sawyer has tapped Dave Weaver, most recently managing partner, chief strategy officer at TM Advertising in Dallas, to build the profile of the company’s One Agency.

The two worked together in the late '90s when Weaver was a senior account planner at Lowe and Partners in San Francisco, where Sawyer was president. In his new role, Weaver has responsibility for One Agency's experiential marketing, design, and advertising operations in New York and Dallas. It’s a new role at Cheil for the Dallas-based Weaver. Sawyer’s predecessor, Michael Kim, who returned to Cheil’s Korean headquarters as global COO of Cheil Worldwide, had previous oversight of One Agency.

Cheil is South Korea’s largest ad agency and a Samsung affiliate. The agency came to the U.S. more than 20 years ago to work for the electronics marketer but has never carved out much of a client base beyond Samsung. (It currently also works for Korean tire company Hankook.) In late January Sawyer, a former top Wieden + Kennedy executive, joined Cheil to transform it into more of a mainstream industry player. Bringing Weaver into One Agency is the first big hire he’s made in that process.

"Dave's a guy who can see things for what they are and for what they're not," Sawyer said. "His job is to bring focus to the three operations at One and grow the business at the agency. The best thing for Samsung would be if we got some other clients."

He said Weaver, who has also held group planning director roles at TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles, and Publicis, Seattle, has the budget to invest in talent in the areas of creative, strategic planning, and digital operations. While Cheil has been treating the One Agency offices as separate entities, Weaver is tasked with unifying them. In addition to adding new marketers at One Agency, he has a mandate to grow Cheil's business from Samsung, which counts Leo Burnett as its lead agency.

In 2008, Cheil acquired a stake in London agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay, which has since opened a New York office; a year later Cheil North America acquired digital firm Barbarian Group. Sawyer is now looking for a general market agency, a deal he expects to strike this year. It may not be an acquisition, though, at least not initially.   

"The agencies I’m finding the most attractive are the ones that are not for sale," Sawyer admitted. "I like an independent mind-set and strong point of view, so we'll probably partner first with them."