Levi's Top Global Marketing Exec Defects to Y&R West

Sweeny Becomes President of Agency's San Francisco and Irvine Offices

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Doug Sweeny is departing his post as VP-global marketing at Levi Strauss & Co. to become president of WPP-owned agency Y&R's West Coast operations. Mr. Sweeny will oversee the network's San Francisco and Irvine offices in tandem with Y&R West's new chief creative officer, Joe Kayser.

Doug Sweeny
Doug Sweeny

The move marks a return for Mr. Sweeny to the agency world, and a reunion for him and Mr. Kayser, who were previously partners at Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day in San Francisco. There they ran the global business for Adidas. Previously, he was an account director working on Saturn at Publicis Groupe 's Hal Riney in San Francisco. "We had a great partnership, and we worked well together and complemented each other really well," Mr. Sweeny said of working with Mr. Kayser. He attributes the opportunity to work with him again and improvements in Y&R's creative product as his reasons for making the jump from Levi's.

For the past four years, Mr. Sweeny helped lead global marketing for the retailer, where he was behind the global "Go Forth" campaign. He plans to wrap up at Levi's, which spends an estimated $100 million globally on advertising, within the next couple of weeks and start at Y&R in early June.

Mr. Sweeny replaces John Berg, who departed his post as Y&R West president in March. "The very first conversation Joe and I had about who would be a suitable partner for our West Coast business ... he mentioned Doug, and I had Doug at the top of my list as well," said Tom Sebok, president-CEO of Y&R North America.

The installation of new management in the office is part of a goal to elevate Y&R's presence on the West Coast. "Overall our agency needs a far greater degree of visibility than it has today," Mr. Sebok said. Clients handled by that office include Chevron, Mattel, Jenny Craig Disney, and Citrix.

More broadly, the agency network -- which has been suffering the loss of a slew of clients in the agency's New York office -- has been making management changes, like bringing in new CEO David Sable and New York Chief Creative Officer Jim Elliott from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Levi's didn't immediately return a request for comment about Mr. Sweeny's departure. The marketer is going through changes of its own, including the launch of its first global ad campaign later this year, and a restructuring of its marketing operation that has brought on new new Global Chief Marketing Officer Rebecca Van Dyck.

It remains to be seen whether the arrival of Ms. Van Dyck and the departure of Ms. Sweeny will have any affect on Levi's agency relationships, which include Wieden & Kennedy and OMD leading global creative and media respectively.

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