Merkley Newman Harty has hired Ken Wieden, the former Hal Riney & Partners creative executive on General Motors' Saturn business, to lead creative efforts for BellSouth, the agency's largest account.
Wieden will join the New York agency on Aug. 24. In addition to running BellSouth, which represents roughly 50 percent of the shop's $200 million in billings, Wieden will also play
a significant role in Merkley's new business efforts and will report to Marty Cooke, chief creative officer.
Though less known than his older brother, Dan, chief executive at award-winning shop Wieden & Kennedy, Ken is a talent in his own right, having helped launch Saturn at Riney in the late 1980s.
Wieden's arrival at Merkley follows the transfer of BellSouth creative director Rick Rabe from New York to Atlanta, where he is creative director and a managing director. Rabe, an architect of BellSouth's ongoing "Chatsford" campaign that centers on the residents of a fictional Southern American town, has a mandate to develop new business in Atlanta, which has functioned mostly as a BellSouth outpost. He reports to Cooke and chief executive Parry Merkley.
Wieden has been a freelancer for the past six years and did a stint at Merkley on IBM before the client consolidated its business at Ogilvy & Mather in 1994.
"I was waiting for the right opportunity to fall into place. BellSouth seems like a Saturn-type client," said Wieden.
"Ken is a definite talent and an exceptionally good presenter. He's not just Dan Wieden's brother," said Steve Baer, deputy creative director at Foote, Cone & Belding here, who also worked on Saturn.
Wieden began his career in the early 1980s, first as a freelancer, then a staffer at W&K in Portland, Ore. He moved to agencies in Toronto and Boston and first crossed paths with Cooke while serving as executive creative director of the former Chiat/Day's Toronto office. Wieden joined Riney in 1989. --with Jane Irene Kell