Clow Recruits McBride

Looking for more creative firepower on the Levi’s account, TBWA/Chiat/Day’s Lee Clow is recruiting Wieden & Kennedy’s top creative, Chuck McBride, to become executive creative director of the agency’s San Francisco office.
McBride, 36, who once headed up creative efforts for Levi Strauss & Co.’s Levi’s brand at Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, will join TBWA/C/D in the next few weeks from his current post as co-creative chief on Nike at Wieden in Portland, Ore., the agency confirmed.
McBride will succeed executive creative director Peter Angelos as the senior creative staffer in San Francisco and join president and CEO Carisa Bianchi in co-managing the shop. Angelos will be a group account director and work on various accounts, possibly including Levi’s, agency executives said.
“[Chuck is] an incredible talent who can bring the passion we’re looking for to the creative product,” said Bianchi. With his experience, an agency source said, he is “ideally suited” to steady TBWA/C/D’s roller coaster creative output on Levi’s.
Clow was not available for comment. McBride said he decided to accept Clow’s offer for personal reasons. In addition to FCB, he is also a veteran of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and had been looking to move back to the Bay Area.
“I have the best job in the world [at Wieden], but sometimes you have to adjust your life outside of work,” he said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done for Nike.”
Like David Page, executive creative director of TBWA/C/D’s New York office who was recruited by Clow earlier this year, McBride has been a favorite of the agency’s chairman and chief creative officer for several years, said sources.
Known as a workaholic with a penchant for dark humor, McBride might be best known for his work on Levi’s baggy Wide Leg jeans while at FCB. It included two hit TV spots: “Elevator Fantasy,” in which a young man and woman spot each other in an elevator and fantasize about their life as a couple; and “Doctors,” in which a hospital operating room becomes the scene of a musical number sung by doctors and patients.
Despite the acclaimed work, Levi put the jeans account into review in 1997 and selected TBWA/C/D.
The move opens up at Wieden what is one of America’s, if not the world’s, most high-profile creative jobs. In his stint in the Nike post–almost two years–McBride oversaw the creation of the “What are you getting ready for?” campaign, which won two gold Lions at Cannes this year. While great creative work is expected from whoever holds the post, the risks and pressures are considerable. Wieden has struggled to defend its turf as lead agency on Nike’s $300-350 million account. Goodby has made inroads in the U.S.; FCB has taken a piece of Wieden’s South America business; and Dentsu Y&R was recently added to the roster in Southeast Asia.
Wieden is developing a plan to fill McBride’s post, but its specific strategy was unclear at press time.
–with Joan Voight
and Angela Dawso