As Jager Di Paola Kemp's new director of brand strategy, Bill Gregory will initially focus on the $2 million Merrell Footwear account in an effort "to help them build a world-class brand," he said.
"I want to hit one out of the park for Merrell," said Gregory, a graduate of Yale University's Divinity School. Merrell, one of JDK's largest accounts, is "extremely committed to brand strategy," said David Kemp, marketing director at the Burlington, Vt., shop.
Gregory, 43, joined JDK in the new post earlier this month after running his own consultancy, Gregory Brand Planning in Arlington, Mass., for two years. There, he offered strategic planning and qualitative marketing research.
Some of his duties at JDK had been handled by the agency's brand strategist, Sascha Mayer, who is working part-time after having a baby. She now reports to Gregory.
"We needed to formalize the [strategic] process," Kemp said. "It's an evolution for us."
Gregory has considerable big-agency experience. He was a strategic planning director at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., from 2000-01. Before that, he was an associate planning director at McCann-Erickson in San Francisco.
JDK, an independent whose billings are estimated at $50 million, is best known for its work on youth- oriented brands such as Bauer Nike Hockey and Burton Snowboards.
"Professionally, I don't feel going to JDK is a compromise at all," said Gregory. "[JDK] is a … company with great values, excellent work. From a lifestyle perspective, I like Burlington a lot."
"[Gregory] is very bright with a wide ranging intellect," Kemp said. "He is able to encompass the broad sweep of cultural trends … needed to develop brand strategies."