No, no, it’s not another group creative director gig handed at Grey, but perhaps something bigger, specifically the title of executive creative director. Derek Barnes, who spent the last two-and-a-half years serving as a CD at Anomaly, and his old W+K cohort Lisa Topol, who worked on Jordan Brand among other things while at the latter agency, have joined Grey NY has ECDs according to, yep, a memo, sent to staff yesterday afternoon. As you’d expect, we have Tor’s words to share verbatim. Read below and after the jump.
“Today is a great day at Grey, as two of the biggest creative stars in our business have joined us as ECDs. Lisa Topol and Derek Barnes are officially in the house, and will be overseeing a group of clients including the NFL, Pringles, Downy, Hasbro, and Turner’s TNT and TBS. I cannot tell you how stoked I am to have this kind of creative firepower and world-class leadership as a part of our squad.
Derek Barnes’ resume is ridiculous, and I’ve been trying to hire him for 3 years. Remember the amazing Nike ad with kids mimicking every classic Michael Jordan move? That was Derek. Remember the Agassi/Sampras guerrilla tennis match in the middle of a New York City street? Derek again. Remember Nike’s Michael Vick Experience? Derek Barnes. Many of your favorite SportCenter commercials? Derek. Last year’s #1 Super Bowl commercial with the Budweiser Clydesdale finding his old owner? Yup. This dude did some of Nike and ESPN’s most famous ads, is responsible for helping craft the voice of Brand Jordan, and spent 9 years under the wing of Dan Wieden. From Dan he learned to lead and inspire creatives, and do really, really great work. Derek specializes in storytelling. His tone is never slapstick, never goofy – always authentic and always relevant. Most importantly, Derek is a thoughtful creative leader who other creatives want to work for and with. He was born and raised in New O!
rleans, waiting decades for the Saints to have a winning season. This taught Derek patience. It also made him an absolute football fanatic. He’s shocked to know his morning ritual of checking NFL news is going to be actual, billable work. He lives with his wife and two sons in Jersey, with the understanding that if anyone develops an accent they’re getting the fuck out. Derek has a stalker-level fascination with the band Oasis, and digs weird things like yoga, kayaking and golf.
Derek, on his worst summer job: “Working in a ‘take-out-only’ fried chicken place the size of a garden shed. Without moving, I could reach the refrigerator, fryer and cash register. I was told if a grease fire broke out, to pull a handle on the wall and the structure would fill with fire retardant foam up to my neck.
Lisa Topol (Leesa Toe-pull) is passionate about the work and says what she believes. Her creative style is unique and often has a smile – Lisa is funny. VERY funny. I’m sure you’re familiar with her Wheat Thins work on air right now. While laugh out loud hilarious, it’s driving business, winning awards, and making people talk about Wheat Thins for the first time in, well, ever. Her IBM and ESPN work is smart and makes you think. Her work on Brand Jordan (she worked with Derek then at Wieden+Kennedy) is thoughtful and inspiring. Lisa has been at Chiat/Day the last several years running a majority of their brands, including Wheat Thins, Nivea, Kahlua and Twix. Who could forget her social media campaign for “Keep a Child Alive” in which they killed famous people like Kim Kardashian and Alicia Keys. Actually they killed them on Twitter, which resulted in a massive freak out by millions of followers, a flood of PR, and raised a million bucks for the fight against AIDS. Lisa als!
o made Schick vagina trimmers an internet sensation, and transformed an entire marketing segment with the famous Kotex tampons campaign that put FCC regulations and girls wearing all white to task. From tampons to tennis shoes, her unique style usually results in provocative, pop-culture-worthy work. She has two dogs, Schmutzy and Wedgie who have won gold and silver medals in those dog agility competitions like the ones on ESPN (this is not a joke. I think.) She’s sung karaoke with N Sync’s Lance Bass, makes custom jewelry with her sister, plays tons of tennis and loves the New York Giants.
Lisa, on the beginning: “Let’s see…before I went into advertising I was pursuing a PhD in religion in 19th Century Victorian literature, but it occurred to me that the market for that topic was starting to dry up.”
Needless to say, I’m thrilled we all get to work with these two gems.
They will undoubtedly make the work better, deeper and more famous.
Good times. Good times.