Changes Rock Creative Landscape

Mullen, Holland Lose Top Teams; Hill, Holliday Continues Search
BOSTON–Top creative teams from Mullen and Holland Mark Martin Edmund have been lured by prestigious, out-of-region agencies.
Holland Mark copywriter Roger Baldacci and art director Scott O’Leary have been hired by Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis. Considered the Boston shop’s top creative duo, the two will join Fallon in mid-April and work together on Lee Jeans, Miller Lite and Men’s Journal, Baldacci said. Their titles have not been finalized.
Separately, copywriter Dylan Lee and art director Monica Taylor of Mullen in Wenham, Mass., have been tapped by Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Ore. The two will start their new gig early next month, working primarily on Nike, Wieden’s longtime flagship account, Lee said. Their titles have not been set.
Both teams were drawn by the opportunity to work on high-profile accounts and create work that will run nationwide.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Baldacci said. Fallon’s cachet and its blue-chip client list offered the pair “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to perform on a larger stage, he said.
Wieden affords creative opportunities that are “kind of hard to pass up,” said Lee, who has been at Mullen for the past two years.
Prior to joining Mullen, Lee was at Pagano Schenck & Kay in Boston, where he worked briefly with Hal Curtis, who now serves as creative director at Wieden.
Lee initially believed the Curtis connection landed him the job, but he later learned Wieden’s interest had been piqued by the award-winning print campaign he and Taylor created for Swiss Army Brands and their much-ballyhooed commercial on this year’s Super Bowl. Taylor did not return calls.
Creative directors at Mullen and Holland Mark are seeking replacements and view the defections as an unfortunate but inevitable part of doing business.
“People come and go. You don’t like them to go, but any really good agency is not dependent on one or two teams,” said Edward Boches, executive creative director at Mullen. Lee and Taylor “are two of my favorite people and they are really talented.”
Mullen, which ranks as the region’s largest independent shop with $254 million in billings, is said to be in acquisition talks with the Interpublic Group of Cos., a New York-based holding company [Adweek, March 15].
Bob Minihan, creative director at Holland Mark, was similarly philosophical about the departures of Baldacci and O’Leary.
“We’re going to miss them a lot,” Minihan said. “It just shows how far we’ve come. People are raiding us.”
O’Leary and Baldacci have been vice presidents and associate creative directors at $72 million Holland Mark for about two years, working on several key accounts including Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Massachusetts, The Boston Globe and Veryfine. Blue Cross recently split with Holland Mark for crosstown agency Partners & Simons.
However, that client defection and Holland Mark’s slow growth in recent months were not factors in Baldacci and O’Leary’s decision to leave, the pair said last week.
Baldacci said he was initially contacted by a headhunter and sent some materials to Fallon president David Lubars, who “liked my work and wanted Scott, too.”
Lubars, who has said he’s been looking to add creative talent, could not be reached last week.
Lubars in the late 1980s and early 1990s was creative director of defunct Providence, R.I., agency Leonard/Monahan, but he has never employed either Baldacci or O’Leary.
Separately, Boston-based Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos continues to search for senior-level creative talent to replace copywriter Ernie Schenck and art director Jamie Mambro, both of whom recently announced decisions to launch solo careers. Schenck and Mambro were one of three creative teams to lead a group of accounts that includes John Hancock Financial Services.
For the short term, Jonathan Plazonja and Todd Riddle are picking up accounts handled by Mambro and Schenck, according to Hill, Holliday creative director Mike Sheehan.
Sheehan acknowledged meeting in recent weeks with creative directors Rob Rich of Ingalls in Boston and Pete Favat of Boston-based Arnold Communications. However, no offers have been made to either of them, Sheehan said.
“I’m talking to a lot of people and not necessarily in this market,” said Sheehan, who also noted that the hiring of a new team is not imminent but should be completed within the next 90 days.
Favat said he has no plans to leave Arnold, where he and longtime partner Rich Herstek oversee work for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program and Fleet Financial Group.
Steve Bautista, who along with Rich oversees Ingalls’ creative department, may also be on Sheehan’s wish list, according to sources. Bautista last week strongly asserted his intention to remain at Ingalls and said he has not had meetings with Sheehan or anyone else at Hill, Holliday. Rich did not return calls.
–with Judy Warner