Yard NYC has promoted Ulrika Karlberg to chief creative officer, marking a milestone in the agency’s history as its first female CCO. Karlberg was formerly co-CCO along with founder Stephen Niedzwiecki, who will transition into the role of creative chairman at the agency.
Founded by husband and wife duo Ruth Bernstein and Niedzwiecki, Yard NYC has remained dedicated to its mission to challenge advertising norms and elevate female voices. Now, Karlberg will lead the agency’s creative vision and further its ambition to build brand beacons in culture, according to the agency.
Karlberg has worked with international and national brands in her career, including Uniqlo, Adidas Originals, HBO, Volvo, Walmart, PepsiCo, Crate&Barrel, Athleta, USTA, Wrangler, Rothy’s, Jägermeister and others. Previously, Karlberg worked at agencies including Droga5, digital innovation agency Firstborn, Grey NY and Forsman & Bodenfors, Stockholm.
“Elevating Ulrika to chief creative signifies a moment of transformation for our agency and for the industry at-large as women’s voices continue to drive a broader impact on culture and creativity,” said Yard NYC co-founder and CEO Bernstein in a statement. “Ulrika is an insightful and thoughtful leader, and she exudes a sense of vigor and ambition that inspires our team and our clients to be brave. She’s already driven enormous influence and transformative brand work to-date, and we’re confident she’s the right leader to drive our longstanding aspiration to build brand beacons.”
Karlberg is a boomerang employee at yard, having begun her tenure as a creative director in 2018. After a brief departure in 2021 to be an ecd at Grey Group, she returned to the agency as co-CCO and will now assume the top creative position as Niedzwiecki transitions to the role of creative chairman, where he will continue his creative impact on the agency at a business and cultural level.
“When I started at Yard nearly five years ago, I knew it was a special place, and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to grow my career here,” said Karlberg in a statement. “Yard is one of the most dedicated agencies to creative craft that I’ve ever worked at, and the team’s unique blend of strategy and conceptualized thinking are superpowers for creativity.
Karlberg continued that Niedzwiecki has been her longest-standing creative partner, and that she has learned much under his leadership.
“I’m most excited to nurture our team’s creative strengths to disrupt culture and create genuine emotional connections for the brands we work with,” said Karlberg of her new position.
Karlberg’s work has won numerous awards, including a Grand Prix and Gold at Cannes Lions, a White Pencil at D&AD impact, and a gold trophy in the Andys, as well as accolades at The One Show, D&AD, British Arrows, Cristal Festivals, Epica Awards, Eurobest and other awards.
“Ulrika has always demonstrated both an exceptional ability to lead and inspire others, as well as strategic and creative excellence,” said Niedzwiecki in a statement. “Over the years we’ve developed such a trusted partnership, sharing an elevated sense of craft and creative impact, which allows for seamless continuity as she steps into this role. I couldn’t think of a more perfect person to become CCO at Yard.”
As one of the less than 1% of advertising agencies that are owned by women or non-binary people today, Yard NYC is a WBENC-certified business, with 86% of employees identifying as female, BIPOC or LGBTQ+. Karlberg joins an all-female team of department heads including Caroline Seklir, head of strategy; Melissa Shacham, head of client services; Emily Green, head of production; and Kat Wiberg, head of people and talent.
Yard NYC has produced noted work, including Athleta’s “Women Run” and “Power of She” platforms and collaborations with Simone Biles and Alicia Keys, the “Meet Me in the Gap” campaign, Walmart’s “We Dress America,” Kohl’s “Give with all Your Heart” and notable pro-bono work including “Leave Mom the F*ck Alone,” which gave back to Every Mother Counts.
Most recently, the agency put its creative talent to work ensuring abortion rights stayed top of mind with its in-house “Stop the Horror” digital and OOH campaign that reimagined six iconic horror films to reflect the real-life horror of a nation stripped of its right to choose.