Smiley Rejoins TBWA\C\D on Absolut

NEW YORK Rob Smiley, the former creative director at the San Francisco office of TBWA\Chiat\Day, has rejoined the agency, this time in New York, as worldwide cd on Absolut. He succeeds Patrick O’Neill, a group cd who left the shop last April.

Since 2002, Smiley has been freelancing in New York, working for shops such as Berlin Cameron/Red Cell (Coca-Cola, Samsung) and TBWA\C\D. In September, he started freelancing on Absolut—a project that turned into nearly full-time work.

He remained a freelancer, however, until last month, when he joined the staff. Since Absolut is a global client run out of New York, Smiley, 46, reports to both New York ecd Gerry Graf and worldwide chief creative officer Lee Clow.

“To be able to work with Gerry and Lee is great,” said Smiley, who previously spent four years at TBWA\C\D’s San Francisco office, working on accounts such as Pets.com and the Game Show Network. He left that office to pursue a freelance career in 2002.

“It has been in my blood,” Smiley said about TBWA\C\D.

Smiley’s Absolut duties include advertising for the flagship brand as well as Level, the brand’s premium offering.

This week, the New York client launched its first TV campaign for the base brand, which eschews the bottle-centric approach of Absolut’s long-running print campaign in favor of “absolute” moments and icons that define modern culture, such as the first manned trip to the moon (“The Absolute Road Trip”). The two TV spots and one print ad represent Smiley’s first work as cd on the account. An assortment of nontraditional efforts also is planned.