Deutsch Goes on a Hiring Binge

Handling two new major creative assignments—Burger King and Coors Light—and a growing Mitsubishi account, Deutsch/LA is bucking the trend in the West and filling dozens of new positions. New hires so far include three group account directors and a media director, the agency said.

“This is really a testimony to the way we have grown, particularly over the past few months,” said Mike Sheldon, managing partner and general manager, who said the shop has created 55 new positions and filled more than half of them. “But it’s not just that we are adding people, it’s the quality of the people we are adding. We are really getting some top-notch talent.”

The hiring binge appears to be the largest at an agency in the West since Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, added dozens of people after winning Saturn last February.

Among those joining as svp and group account director is John Else, who most recently managed the Saturn account at Publicis & Hal Riney. He will co-manage Mitsubishi with svp, group account director Steve Morrissey. Also, Duffy Smith, a 10-year veteran of TBWA\Chiat\Day, is now handling Coors Light. And John Upton, who had been an account manager on Hyundai at Bates USA West, is working on Burger King.

Upton noted that while his category may have changed, the objectives are much the same. “There are a lot of similarities in terms of building the brand and slugging it out with the competition,” he said. “With Hyundai, a major goal was to keep the dealers happy. At Burger King, that means the 8,000 locations.”

The hires follow a major uptick in billings at the Marina del Rey, Calif., shop. In May, Deutsch/LA was tapped to handle a $50 million creative assignment for Burger King that primarily involves introducing the chain’s selection of new items priced at 99 cents. In August, the shop picked up an $80 million creative assignment from Coors Light. And Mitsubishi, which spent about $220 million last year, according to CMR, is expected to spend more than $300 million this year, sources said.

Melanie Axtman, currently a media director at TBWA\C\D working on Infiniti, is set to join Deutsch as svp, media director exclusively on Mitsubishi. Nancy Alley, who most recently was director of human interest at Saatchi & Saatchi, joins as vp, director of human resources.

The additions will bring the number of staffers from about 350 to more than 400. Sheldon said it’s the office’s biggest hiring spree since it opened in September 1995.