MNH Lures Creatives

Merkley Newman Harty, fueled by $150 million in recent billings growth, has added more new faces to its creative ranks. The latest arrivals: writer Jeff Bitsack, art director Viv Walsh, and the team of art director Steve Ohman and writer Harold Karp.
Ohman, 53, and Karp, 51, have been freelancing since early 1998. Previously, they had spent 17 years at the shop Lowe & Partners/SMS and its predecessor shops, working on such brands as Mercedes, Citibank, Sony and Prudential, lastly in group creative head posts.
Bitsack, who is 33, comes from design shop Lee Hunt Associates here and has worked at Cliff Freeman and Partners (Little Caesars, Fox Sports) as a vp, senior copywriter, as well as Wieden & Kennedy (ESPN) and the former Chiat/Day (Reebok).
Walsh, 36, hails from Fallon McElligott, where he worked on BMW, Miller Lite, Nikon and Fortune as a senior art director.
Prior shops include the London offices of Saatchi & Saatchi and BMP DDB.
Due to MNH’s flat hierarchy, the seasoned additions will take the titles of copywriter (Bitsack and Karp) and art director (Walsh and Ohman). Ohman and Karp have already worked on a spot featuring Babe Ruth and other pop icons in MNH’s new Mercedes TV campaign. (see Critique, page 36.)
Merkley landed the car maker’s $125 million account in May after the client fired Lowe. Last month, it picked up about a dozen Mercedes dealerships. Other wins, such as JetBlue ($10-20 million) and Keds ($10 million), have brought the shop’s total billings to roughly $300 million.
The Mercedes coup saw the arrival at MNH of several Lowe staffers, including executive creative directors Marty Orzio, Randy Saitta and Andy Hirsch, as well as group account director Alex Gellert.
“We look for people who are not only smart but versatile,” said Orzio, referring to the new hires. “In the end, advertising is an interruption and you need people who somehow can play with entertainment.”