JWT’s MGD Executive Predicts Branding Shift

John Sheehan, tapped by J. Walter Thompson here as a key executive on the Miller Genuine Draft account, said the agency plans yet more creative changes on the brand for next year.

“I expect that in 2003 you really are going to see a change in direction from the creatives,” Sheehan said of MGD, although he declined to offer specifics.

Sheehan, 34, joined JWT last week as management director on MGD. He previously ran Coors Brewing’s Zima business at Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco. At JWT, he reports to senior partner, group management director Don Durbin.

Sheehan was looking to move to the Midwest and contacted JWT through a headhunter, taking the position after several meetings.

JWT’s Miller business is not without challenge. The Milwaukee brewery was sold in July to South African Breweries, although the marketing implications of that deal remain unclear. JWT’s first MGD campaign, “Never miss a genuine opportunity,” was widely criticized. The current “Pure MGD” series is receiving better reviews, sources said. The architect of both those efforts, Dennis Ryan, left the shop earlier this year and was replaced in March by Rick Kemp. Kemp, who came from JWT in Toronto, has hired several new creatives for the MGD business.

“With a new creative team in place, I saw an opportunity to really develop the brand strategy,” Sheehan said.

At FCB, Sheehan worked on strategy that led to Zima’s current “Go with plan Z” campaign as well as its predecessor, “Clearly refreshing.” He also worked on the Major League Baseball and Fox NFL Sunday pregame assignments.

“He has tenacity and love for good creative,” said Patrick Kiss, FCB’s evp, group account director.

Prior to FCB, Sheehan worked at Pittsburgh shops Ketchum Advertising and Bozell.