NEW YORK Mike Byrne, a creative director at Wieden + Kennedy and key contributor to the shop's cornerstone Nike account, is joining Anomaly as a partner and creative chief, filling the vacancy left by the January exit of Ernest Lupinacci, the agency said.
In addition to leading creative efforts, Byrne will take a stake in the New York independent. He joins next month, after 10 years at W+K. "I like his brain as well as his craft skills," said Carl Johnson, a shop co-founder who recruited Byrne, "and his personality. But also his ambition."
At W+K, Byrne, 36, a copywriter by trade, worked on a string of high-profile campaigns, including 2001's "Play," which celebrated the simple joys of playing games. One TV spot in that campaign, "Tag," depicted the children's game of the same name, as played by adults in a busy city setting. The spot, which Byrne wrote, won the Grand Prix for film at the Cannes International Advertising Festival in 2002.
"It is hard to believe that Mike is leaving, but he is pretty intent on heading back to New York to be closer to his family," said W+K president Dan Wieden. "We watched him develop into a one-of-a-kind talent. We will miss him. Badly."
The agency plans to consider both internal and external candidates to fill the post. For the time being, Byrne's duties will be absorbed by Steve Luker, his partner on Nike, said Dave Luhr, the shop's chief operating officer.
In 2004, Bryne was a cd on Nike's "What if?" effort, which depicted famous athletes competing in sports outside their areas of expertise, including tennis star Andre Agassi hitting and fielding for the Boston Red Sox and baseball pitcher Randy Johnson bowling. Byrne also was co-cd on the last spot in Nike's "Spike and Mike" campaign for Air Jordan, in which Spike Lee (as Mars Blackmon) bids farewell to Michael Jordan just before he retired from basketball in 2003.
Byrne joined W+K in 1996, working first in the independent shop's New York office on ESPN. He shifted to Portland, Ore. (and Nike) in 2000 and became co-cd on the brand 2 1/2 years later.
Anomaly represents his first stab at leading a creative department. The agency's clients include Coca-Cola, The New York Times, Virgin America and ESPN Mobile Publishing; its total head count is around 60.
Lupinacci, 39, was among the five original partners who opened Anomaly in June 2004. He left to pursue work in branded content under the moniker Ernest Industries.