New Roles for Wenneker, Boches at Mullen

In a move that reflects both corporate and personal transformation, Mullen in Boston today named ecd Mark Wenneker chief creative officer. That post was held for nearly a dozen years by Edward Boches, who takes the new role of chief innovation officer.

The change was widely expected, given the Interpublic Group agency’s recent new-business surge with Wenneker at the creative helm and Boches’ emergence as one of adland’s biggest stars on Twitter. (He’s a current member of the Adweek 25, our frequently changing group of top industry voices worth following on the microblogging service.)

In an entry on Creativity Unbound blog, Boches said of his new job: “It excites the hell out of me. The chance to focus on all that’s new, think about its impact on the agency and our clients, and work to inspire new behaviors and practices that might, as Faris Yakob says, ‘get us to awesome faster’ is, well, awesome in itself.”

He continued: “After helping define a new vision for the agency, expressed with the word ‘unbound,’ I’ve spent most of my time on projects designed to help us live up to all that unbound declares as we transformed ourselves from a message making ad agency into one we believe is far more relevant to the digital/social/mobile age.”

A copywriter by trade who’s been with Mullen more than two decades, Boches ranks among the most well-known creative executives ever in the New England region. His efforts for (notably its landmark “When I Grow Up” 1999 Super Bowl spot), Nextel in the early 2000s and Orbitz mid-decade are especially well regarded. He helped grow the agency — which now employs about 400 of its 600 total staffers in Boston — into a bigger national force during his tenure as creative chief.

As social media began to flourish, however, Boches turned to Twitter and blogging to represent the agency and enhance its brand. Indeed, thanks largely to Boches’ efforts, Mullen is viewed as being in the vanguard of traditional shops with social acumen. And with Wenneker increasingly running the creative department, today’s shift represents a logical progression.

“Mark has elevated our product, recruited great talent, been a force in new business and fundamentally impacted Mullen’s DNA,” said Joe Grimaldi, president and CEO at Mullen. “He has emerged as the creative leader in our Boston office, and that has liberated Edward to more aggressively pursue digital.”

Wenneker, a Goodby, Silverstein & Partners alum, joined the Boston-based shop three year ago. Since late 2009, he’s helped engineer an impressive resurgence that includes wins like Zappos, JetBlue and, earlier this week, Fage Greek yogurt. The agency had struggled with the down economy for nearly two years prior to his arrival.

Most recently, he oversaw a big JetBlue push launched a few weeks ago. Mullen’s best-known work under Wenneker is likely its offbeat Zappos campaign with puppets acting out customer-service calls.

Moving forward, Boches will still be available consultation. But now that he’s passed the CCO mantle to Wenneker, the latter’s on the spot to pull the right creative strings and drive innovation.