WestWayne Hires Big-Budget Vets

In line with its plan to attract national clients to the Southeast, WestWayne has recruited two veteran executives with big-budget account experience.

“Atlanta has changed so much,” said agency president and CEO Jeff Johnson. “It’s not a question of needing national talent. What you need at our size is people who have worked with $200-400 million dollar clients, and those are hard to find in this region.”

Joseph Caponigro, 48, will oversee WestWayne’s planning and buying in Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., as executive media director. Steve Baer, also 48, joins the independent shop as executive creative director.

Caponigro will be responsible for all media operations at the agency. He reports to Johnson. His résumé includes stints at the Detroit offices of BBDO and McCann-Erickson. At McCann, he served as president of the shop’s promotional and event marketing subsidiary, Momentum.

“The automotive business be-comes more competitive every minute,” said Caponigro about WestWayne’s Southeast Toyota Dealerships business.

Caponigro said his first task will be to integrate WestWayne’s two offices. “We’re challenging our people to become more creative and strategically involved,” he said.

Baer succeeds Scott Sheinberg, who was promoted to chief creative officer late last year. Baer and Johnson worked together at Wells/BDDP on the Heineken and Georgia-Pacific accounts. His national account experience includes working at Hal Riney & Partners in San Francisco, where he contributed to Saturn’s “A different kind of company. A different kind of car” campaign.