Merkley Creates ACD Level, Appoints 10 to the Post

When Andy Hirsch and Randy Saitta became executive creative directors of Merkley Newman Harty & Partners in 1999, they oversaw about a dozen creatives at the shop, which then had billings of roughly $275 million.

Running a department that size wasn’t a problem for three people. (Marty Orzio, also an ecd, left the agency in 2001.) The idea of additional tiers was moot. Each creative carried the title of art director or copywriter.

The New York shop now has nearly 30 creatives, and billings have risen to about $475 million. Because of that growth and the need to distribute responsibility, Hirsch and Saitta have created an associate creative director post for 10 senior staffers. In addition to their responsibility for specific accounts, the acds will be available to work on all of the agency’s business.

Four of the acds are new to the agency, including the former Goodby, Silverstein & Partners team of copywriter Tom Miller and art director Stephen Pearson. Miller, 34, and Pearson, 36, created several memorable TV spots at Goodby, including “Ghost Town,” E*Trade’s Super Bowl send-off to the dot-com era, and “Bones,” a hyperbolic tale of what happens to those who neglect to drink milk (an elderly man’s arms snap off while he mows his lawn).

More recently, the two worked on “Family Vacation,” a Goodyear spot that puts a multinational face on the age-old question, “Are we there yet?” Said Saitta, “With a reel like that, they could have gotten a job anywhere.”

At Merkley, Miller and Pearson will focus initially on Southern California dealer ads for Mercedes.

The other new acds are Chris Landi, 35, and Kirk Mosel, 42. Landi, a former acd at Fallon in New York, is assigned to Mercedes national ads and SBC Communications. Mosel, a former acd at Hampel Stefanides in New York, will focus on Prevacid.

Hirsch and Saitta said they were impressed by the personalities of the new acds, whom they described as friendly and likable. They want the acds to mentor junior staffers, and expect that the new level will give the rest of the creative staff something to strive toward.