Wieden+Kennedy bolsters global leadership team

(Neal Arthur (l.) and Karl Lieberman (r.) join Colleen DeCourcy on W+K’s global leadership team.)

Big news from the New York office of Wieden+Kennedy. The agency has elevated two of its executives to the agency’s global leadership team. Executive creative director Karl Lieberman is now the shop’s chief creative officer. Managing director Neal Arthur has been promoted to chief operating officer.

According to Ad Age, Colleen DeCourcy will remain as global chief creative officer.

There is also word that chairman Dave Luhr will retire at the end of the year, and co-president Tom Blessington will replace him. Blessington returned to the agency in 2018 from YouTube.

Lieberman joined W+K’s Portland HQ in 2008. The creative leader has played an integral role in some of the agency’s award-winning work for P&G and KFC, leading campaigns like “Thank You, Mom” for the CPG giant and the resurrection of Colonel Sanders.

Before W+K, Lieberman is best known for co-creating “The Most Interesting Man in the World” for Dos Equis.

“Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t even get an interview at Wieden, so to find myself in this position is as surreal as it is awesome,” Lieberman told Adweek. “This place has always pushed me. Now it’s my turn to help give more people the opportunities, inspiration and confidence Wieden has given me over the years.”

Creatively, in the new role, Lieberman signaled that the agency’s creative direction won’t have much wholesale change.

“I think we keep heading in the same direction we started heading in 38 years ago,” he added. “It has been and always will be about making things that are true, that have a real point of view on the world, that are creatively interesting and that get into culture.”

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Neal Arthur

Arthur joined W+K in 2005 and was head of strategic planning before becoming managing director. According to the agency, during his tenure, revenue has doubled, and WKNY has become a desirable landing spot for talent. Outside of the agency, Arthur is the board chair for Ghetto Film School.

“This doesn’t change day-to-day energy,” Arthur told Adweek. “But it is an opportunity to channel the spiritual energy of the place so that we take actions and collectively create work that’s bigger than ads.”

“W+K has played a huge role in our lives because it’s not just a place or a job,” he noted. “It’s a culture that has allowed us to be ourselves, to speak up, and use the work to say something.”

With clients such as McDonald’s, Ford and Bud Light run out of the New York office, the moves show the impact the east coast is having. New York and Portland have remained somewhat separate entities until now. Winning Adweek’s 2019 U.S. Agency of the Year has also helped

“There is momentum, but we’re not trying to export the style of the New York office,” Lieberman said. “The beauty of this company is that it allows for each office in the network to stand on its own. New York doesn’t have to be Portland. Shanghai doesn’t have to be London. We’re always trying to share what works in one place and see if it can be useful for others.”

According to Lieberman, the spirit of that forward momentum will spread across the global network of offices in Amsterdam, Delhi, London, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo, while allowing for individuality.

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Reel 360 wishes Karl and Arthur the best of luck in their new roles.