Almost exactly one week after surprising quite a few with the departure of its top two creatives, Wieden+Kennedy New York went internal to find their replacement: creative director Karl Lieberman.
Lieberman’s promotion comes six days after the agency announced that ECDs Jaime Robinson and David Kolbusz would be leaving their positions effective immediately and that global ECD Colleen DeCourcy and New York managing director Neal Arthur would replace them for what turned out to be a fairly brief interim period.
We learned why Kolbusz left one day later: he’s now CCO of Droga5 London, which hired him after poaching Bill Scott of Grey to serve as CEO in August. This all looks like an attempt to expand that agency’s presence in the U.K. after Droga had to close its Sydney office last month, and it was a natural move for British Kolbusz, who also worked at BBH and GS&P.
Robinson’s next steps remain unclear.
Lieberman has been with W+K since 2008, when he joined the shop’s Portland headquarters as a copywriter; he was promoted to CD two years later and went on to produce work for clients like Nike, Old Spice, Target, Procter & Gamble and Facebook (among others). He also led creative on the new KFC campaign, which stars both Darrell Hammond and Norm Macdonald and has earned some fair-to-middling reviews from trades like, say, this one.
Prior to joining Wieden, Lieberman was a copywriter/art director at TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, Mother and Euro RSCG (now Havas), where he’s credited with co-creating The Most Interesting Man in the World for Dos Equis.
Regarding the new job, he says:
“Things have been great in Portland. I loved my bosses, my partner, our team, our clients and my home. And as someone who has been a creative in advertising for a pretty long time, that feeling of contentment made me nervous and I knew it was time for a change. I am in awe of the NY office’s talent, their client roster and their work. I’m assuming this promotion is a clerical error, but I’m just going to go with it.”
DeCourcy calls him “a fantastically accomplished creative” as well as “a great leader and a great person,” adding, “We are fortunate that the planets aligned to bring him back to New York.” Arthur calls him “the perfect person to take the reins of this office during an exciting point in its history.”
Lieberman starts the new job on January 4, 2016…right in time for what should be Wieden + Kennedy’s first work for its newest big-name client, Bud Light.