Karlsson to McCann as N.Y., London Creative Chief

Linus Karlsson, a creative MVP at independent and midsize shops, just moved up to the industry’s big leagues.

Karlsson (pictured) has signed on for the job of chairman and chief creative officer of McCann Erickson’s New York and London offices.

The move had been expected following his departure this week from the New York office of independent agency Mother.

Karlsson, who has thrived at creatively driven ad firms, now faces the challenges presented by a more complex environment and having to guide staffers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Karlsson’s contract with Interpublic Group-owned McCann was finalized today after four months of talks. He begins his new job in February. In New York, where he will be based, the exec replaces CCO Joyce King Thomas. She announced her exit earlier this year but has remained active in a consulting role. The London position had been filled on an interim basis by co-ecds Simon Learman and Brian Fraser.

Nick Brien, worldwide CEO of McCann Worldgroup, said he wasn’t looking for a single creative leader to oversee McCann’s Atlantic corridor. But once Brien began negotiations with Karlsson, he designed the role around the Mother N.Y. co-founder and partner.

“He gets how technology will change creativity and he is very conceptual creatively with very powerful ideas,” said Brien, who took on his new McCann role six months ago. “He’s also an entrepreneur and a builder who has the values to inspire others.”

Brien noted that Karlsson would be working with some key clients McCann shares with Mother, such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever.

Karlsson has long been associated with Mother N.Y. co-founder Paul Malmstrom. The two have worked as a team for the last 20 years, launching their careers in Sweden at Paradiset DDB in Stockholm. They first made their mark in America when they joined Fallon, Minneapolis, in 1997. During their tenure at that shop, they created the controversial “Dick” campaign for Miller Lite, the Jukka Brothers for MTV and Buddy Lee for Lee Jeans.

Karlsson and Malmstrom were recruited in 2003 to launch the U.S. arm of London-based Mother.