Thompson Recruits Robinson

Austin Kelley Advertising creative director Mark Robinson is leaving for a top spot at Thompson & Company.

Robinson will become the Memphis, Tenn., shop’s executive creative director. He replaces Trace Hollowell, who left last summer.

Robinson, who joined Austin Kelley here in 1996 from BBDO South, said the opportunity was too good to pass up and that he was looking forward to working at an independent shop.

“They’re a smart group of people who are dedicated to the product and the client,” said Robinson. “They have an entrepreneurial spirit, and that’s something I cherish.”

The decision to hire Robinson marked the end of a nine-month search by agency chairman Michael Thompson.

“I was looking for a seasoned ad guy with a big-picture mentality,” Thompson said. “He’s got a lot of varied client experience, especially in the food industry, which we want to grow into.”

Robinson said his decision to leave was motivated, in part, by the Atlanta agency’s sale three years ago to IPG, which followed the death of AKA founder Austin Kelley.

“I don’t feel public-ally held companiesput the people or the work first,” said Robinson. “They put shareholders first, and that makes sense, but not if you’re one of the guys working.”

At AKA, Robinson managed the $85 million shop’s print and broadcast units, Deep Design and Studio A, as well as the creative department’s six writers and art directors. He shared the title of senior vice president and creative director with Jim Spruell.

Robinson’s clients included Barn Fly Western Wear, Karastan and Honey Baked Ham of Georgia. At BBDO, he worked on Delta Air Lines, Maxfli, Hardee’s and BellSouth Mobility.

AKA president and chief executive officer Jay Shields credited Robinson with securing the and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution accounts earlier this year. Shields called him a “kingdom builder,” saying he brought pro-cesses, procedures and people together.

“He can manage multiple re-sources within the departments,” Shields said. “And he knows how to get great work from young writers.”

Thompson saw creative books from New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Atlanta, but said he found much of the work self-indulgent.

“When you think about Mark’s book, every piece was seasoned veteran work,” Thompson said.