WestWayne Hires Evans

She majored in theater arts at the University of California at Berkeley, and Karen Evans, incoming chief strategy officer at WestWayne, discovered early on in her career that the marketing arena compares favorably with the stage.

“The second we started to do an ad campaign, I adored it,” she said of her experience working at Bank of America following her graduation in 1981. “It took the creativity [of the theater] without the insane rejection and living hand to mouth.”

The 44-year-old Evans, formerly evp, director of brand planning at Cliff Freeman and Partners, will join Atlanta-based WestWayne on Jan. 2, overseeing strategy for all clients. She reports to president and CEO Jeff Johnson and replaces Andrew Jones as head of account planning at the $350 million, 210-staffer independent. Four planners in the agency’s Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., offices will report to her.

“Karen’s a smart planner, and she makes me laugh,” Johnson said, adding that her “tough” and “stand-up-comic” sides make for “a nice combination.”

Jones will remain senior planner on the shop’s SunTrust and Southeast Toyota Distributors accounts.

Evans is the second New York agency veteran to become a WestWayne department head in the past year. Last December, Johnson hired executive creative director Steve Baer, who owned New York shop The Wood House.

Evans, a native of Northern California, began her career after attending a daunting Berkeley seminar led by actor John Houseman, who warned, “If you can live without [the theater] for one minute, get out now.” She took his advice—as well as her father’s—and joined BofA’s marketing department.

Evans has spent seven years in Cliff Freeman’s planning department. Before that, she was director of account planning at Citron Haligman Bedecarré in San Francisco.