Bernstein-Rein Signs Richards Group Vet as New ECD

By Patrick Coffee 

Kansas City’s Bernstein-Rein named David Smith as its new executive creative director, effective immediately. He will report directly to president Steve Bernstein and oversee creative for all the agency’s clients, which currently include Haverty’s furniture store, McDonald’s, Old Dominion Freight Line and Hostess.

Smith has worked for an assortment of agencies in Austin and Los Angeles during a 28-year ad industry career. After beginning at GSD&M as a copywriter on the Southwest account (which has been there for quite a while), he went to RPA and back before rejoining the mostly-Honda shop in 1995 as a creative director; he was promoted to ECD in 2008 and later became chief creative.

After freelancing in L.A. for a time, Smith joined The Richards Group in 2012, serving as creative group head/co-CD on the Home Depot business. He also contributed to the Chick-Fil-A and RAM Trucks accounts.


Earlier this year, Bernstein-Rein went through a round of executive-level changes when its largest client LPL Financial split after two years. Only weeks later, the client was fined $11.7 million by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for “widespread supervisory failures,” so we’ll call it a crisis averted.

After the account left, EVP/growth officer Jules Boasberg, SVP of strategy Ric Brockmeier, and CCO/Barkley and GSD&M alumni Brian Brooker also departed.

When our story ran in March, Bernstein told us that his agency had already begun searching for Brooker’s successor–and Smith would appear to be that party. In the release, Bernstein writes:

“After an extensive search, we are honored to have David join our agency in this leadership position. Creativity is the lifeblood of an agency. It’s what moves competent work into levels from acceptable to inspirational. Our goal is to deliver creative that sets off triggers in the brain and shivers in the heart. Having David on board will continue our legacy in creating this level of work for all our clients … and ones yet to come.”

After watching yesterday’s DLKW Lowe campaign, we would prefer to avoid any trace of heart shivers. But we get it.

Smith writes that “Bernstein-Rein has a remarkably rich history of innovative thinking and strong creative,” adding, “they’ve nurtured an independent culture that positions them extremely well for the changes taking place right now in the industry.”

In other words, no holding company.

Smith is the second creative to leave Richards this summer after group head Carl Warner departed to launch his own, as-yet-unannounced venture in July.

Sadly, the AdLife comic strip created by B-R veterans Chris Corley (now with VML) and Paul Prato (now with PP+K) is no more.