Slumping Wolf Group Hires ECD

Mired in a woeful new-business year, Wolf Group has brought aboard a new executive creative director in an effort to get the shop over the hump in reviews.

David Bernstein, 40, had been freelancing at the New York agency; he took over control of the 14-member creative department from president Mike Rogers on Oct. 27.

The unit of Toronto’s Wolf Group Integrated Communications won nine accounts in 2002. But this year it has struck out in nine reviews, winning only the $10 million New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene account and

a Comcast project. Rogers cited the shop’s lack of experience in some of the categories it has pitched, but he said, “I don’t think there is one reason [for the slump].”

Rogers, who had been ecd since 1998, began taking on more client and operational duties in June, when COO Ned Russell began a transition out of the agency. (He left in August and will not be replaced.) “When you run and manage an agency, and when you have top-to-top relationships with clients up to the chairman level, there is simply not enough time in the day, night or weekends to also be involved in doing great work,” Rogers said.

“I would hope that if Mike is spread less thin, then I can focus on the creative product the agency puts out in those reviews,” Bernstein said.

Rogers’ search began in June. He said he reviewed 100 books and interviewed about 20 candidates.

Bernstein, a copywriter, left BBDO, where he had been a creative director, in September. His best-known work includes a BellSouth campaign from Merkley Newman Harty tagged “Nobody knows a neighbor like a neighbor” and a Hallmark spot from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer that saluted single dads on Mother’s Day.