Ex-Energy BBDO ECD to Lead Frequency540’s Creative Department

By Patrick Coffee 

Following the mid-summer departure of chief creative officer Mark Taylor, BBDO’s Chicago office parted ways with another of its creative leaders.

Suzanne Michaels officially left Energy BBDO earlier this month to join Frequency540, an independent Windy City digital agency that includes ULTA Beauty, Caterpillar, U.S. Cellular, SunPower and Circuit of the Americas on its client roster. (Here’s the “work” portion of its site.)

She held the SVP/ECD position at Energy BBDO for less than a year, working on the Pepsi and Bayer accounts.


In early 2014, Michaels joined Critical Mass as ECD after spending more than four years at the Chicago offices of DigitasLBi as VP/GCD and SVP of creative. Former agency titles include digital CD at DDB, where she worked on the McDonald’s account, and senior copywriter/creative lead at J. Walter Thompson. She spent 8 years there leading the Helene Curtis account and working on campaigns for Nestle, Kraft, Ford, the U.S. Marines and various other accounts.

Michaels’ new agency may be less of a household name than her previous employer, but it’s growing: in August, FQ540 hired Digitas VP/CD Melissa Healy to run the U.S. Cellular business and oversee “user experience, acquisition and creation of an innovative content hub.” In October, it brought former Razorfish CD Tom Quish on in the creative director role to manage work for new client Lincoln Park Zoo and Jackson Hewitt.

Michaels will manage the entire team, driving creative vision for all of the shop’s clients while reporting to FQ540 CEO Andrew Swinand, who says she is “well known throughout our industry as a true creative visionary” and cites her “track record of combining creativity with innovation to solve tough business problems” in explaining the hire.

Swinand himself is a veteran of the BBDO organization who handled accounts in the ’90s before moving in-house at P&G and then spending more than a decade as president of Starcom MediaVest in Chicago.

Regarding her new gig, Michaels says, “People now expect more from brands in exchange for their attention. The future of marketing is about personalization and service, and Frequency540 gets this.”

The release does not specify her reasons for leaving the BBDO organization.