Culture Leads Schenck to GSD&M

Copywriter to Freelance for Texas Agency in ‘Unique’ Arrangement
DALLAS–GSD&M has signed ad veteran Ernie Schenck as a freelance creative resource, launching a six-month deal between the Austin, Texas, shop and the award-winning copywriter.
Schenck, formerly executive vice president and group creative director at Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston, has agreed to work exclusively with GSD&M on creative projects. He will provide his copywriting skills to any number of the $750 million agency’s clients, including Southwest Airlines and the Texas Lottery.
Schenck’s compensation package was not disclosed. A GSD&M representative said only that it “is as unique as the relationship itself.”
Both sides described the arrangement as an “experiment,” downplaying any notion that the dalliance will lead to a permanent position. Schenck, in fact, is adamant that his days as an agency full-timer are over.
“You know, the schmoozing, the hand holding, the golf outings, the dinners, the back rubbing–that’s just not me,” said Schenck. “I like to be holed up in a room with my craft. That’s how I like to work.”
“[Schenck’s] a brilliant writer and a provocative thinker,” said GSD&M president Roy Spence. “We’re trying conceptually to have groups of high-powered creatives and relieve them from as much management responsibilities as we can.”
Spence and Schenck were united through Tiverton, R.I.-based consultant Tom Monahan, who described GSD&M as “an agency with a real culture. It doesn’t just give lip service [to culture] . . . It has an environment where there is less fear and loathing and politics . . . People are not afraid to say what’s on their mind and that’s really important in a creative department.”
GSD&M has no executive creative director slots and few management responsibilities for its seven on-staff creative directors. The shop’s reputation as a creative magnet has been spelled out in recent months with the attraction of talent from Fallon McElligott and Wieden & Kennedy.
Schenck has compiled numerous One Show and Clio awards in his 27-year career.
In addition, a 90-second commercial he wrote for John Hancock Financial Services took honors at Cannes last year and was a semifinalist for an Emmy.
Prior to his tenure at Hill, Holliday, Schenck freelanced for nine years after holding a partnership in Pagano Schenck & Kay in Boston.
He plans to concentrate on other freelance creative endeavors, including novel writing, once the half-year tryst with GSD&M concludes.