ISM Seeks Big- Brand Panache

ISM is looking to leverage Michael Jacobs’ experience with major brands and various media to help it more successfully compete for national accounts.

So said CEO Gary Leopold, who appointed Jacobs executive creative director of the 40-person Boston independent, a 19-year-old shop that specializes in travel and hospitality clients. Jacobs spent the last year at Boathouse in Dedham, Mass.

Jacobs, 44, succeeds Judy Austin, who left last month.

He is best known for his tenure at relationship-marketing shop Digitas. But ISM “did not bring Michael in to focus on direct,” Leopold said.

“His history of success in multiple media is what we wanted,” Leopold said. “That, and the fact that he has led significantly larger and more demanding clients like [Charles] Schwab and Merrill Lynch.”

At Boathouse, Jacobs, a copywriter, worked on Merrill Lynch and Upromise. From 1998-2001, he was ecd of Digitas, San Francisco.

In 2001 Jacobs oversaw a print, direct, outdoor and interactive pro bono campaign for Roots of Peace, a group dedicated to eradicating land mines. The “Mines to Vines” effort garnered national attention.

Jacobs joined Digitas in 1990, where he worked on accounts such as Schwab, FedEx and AmEx.

Those who know Jacobs said he is straightforward and adept at strategic and tactical thinking. Digitas CEO David Kenny praised him as “a gifted creative director [who] helped establish our West Coast presence.”

Jacobs described himself as a hands-on leader. “I’m not an administrator. … I’m a creative guy, passionate about the work.”

ISM, which claims $45 million in billings, counts among its clients the Barbados Tourism Authority and American Express Travel Services.