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Ogilvy & Mather New York Chief Creative Officer Calle Sjoenell will be leaving his post to become chief creative officer at Lowe Brindfors, Stockholm, this fall.
Mr. Sjoenell cites family as the main reason behind his return to his native Sweden. As for the decision to join Lowe Brindfors, "I wanted to go somewhere with a great creative history, where creativity is part of the DNA," he said. "I also wanted a great partner to work with, and when I spoke to Annette [Gardo] the CEO, it felt like a really good match. There's tons of potential."
At Lowe, Mr. Sjoenell will find himself at a much smaller shop -- 80 staffers compared to the hundreds that work at Ogilvy's Chocolate Factory building in New York. But he said the client opportunities are interesting. Among the agency's clients are telcom giant Telenor, insurance company Trygg-hansa, Swedbank, BMW and Mini.
Outside of running the agency alongside Ms. Gardo, Mr. Sjoenell will be a part of the Lowe and Partners Global Creative Council, headed by President Jose Miguel Sokoloff.
His move back to Sweden marks the end of a notable run in the States. He started working Stateside in 2006 at Fallon, Minneapolis, where he became known for groundbreaking digital efforts suchs as then Sci-Fi Channel's "Infinite Oz" effort.
Following Fallon, Mr. Sjoenell moved to BBH, New York, as a creative director on high profile work for Axe and Google. In 2012, Mr. Sjoenell made the big-agency leap and became the chief creative officer of Ogilvy, New York. In the last two years, he's overseen multiplatform efforts for Coca-Cola, Ikea and Kimberly Clark. He said among the projects he's most proud of are Coke's "wearable movie" and work for the brand's recyclable PET "Plantbottle," made partially out of plants, as well as collaborations with Kimberly-Clarke and its CMO Clive Serkin. The agency recently launched an out-of-the-box effort for the category, "Underwareness-- Drop Your Pants," an in-your-face attempt to change attitudes about incontinence that included a music video featuring Kimberly-Clark employees wearing Depends, as well as sophisticated shots of models donning the disposables.
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Mr. Sjoenell said leaving New York will be "tough. It's such an amazing city, and when you live here, something happens to you. It's very hard to describe, but being part of the energy and optimism of this place is amazing. I've met so many amazing people from all over working here."
His move seems to be part of a New York exodus of Swedes returning to their native country. Recent years have seen the moves of others back to the country, but Mr. Sjoenell said he believes it's just part of a cycle.
"There are tons of Swedes staying," he said. "I think [for us] it's more like the family thing. I don't think there's an exodus back. There's a healthy exchange."
Ogilvy & Mather would not say whether a replacement has been found for Mr. Sjoenell, but Ad Age obtained an announcement North America Chief Creative Officer Steve Simpson sent this morning about his departure below.
After living and working for eight years in the U.S., Calle Sjoenell is leaving Ogilvy & Mather and returning to Sweden. This may come as a surprise to many of you. Yes, Calle is Swedish.
Calle is leaving for "personal reasons." This may be one of the few instances in which this phrase is not a euphemism. He is returning to Sweden because of a confluence of events, including the imminent arrival of his second child.
Calle has accepted a role with an agency based in Stockholm, but in the meantime he insists on leaving current projects, clients and teams in good shape.
Calle has been part of an increasingly deep bench of creative leadership in New York. He has formed an excellent partnership with Alfonso Marian, and he has been a key supporter of Matt Bonin's work toward creating a truly integrated production model.
In the 26 months he served as CCO of O&M Advertising NY, Calle stabilized key accounts, led important projects for clients like Philips, IKEA and Kimberly-Clark, and won assignments from new and current clients. Calle moreover helped make the agency a creative shop to watch: for example, our work was featured seven times in the pages of Creativity in just the last eight months.
Throughout his tenure, Calle wore the pressures of the job lightly. He was able to manage the demands and complexity of this very large agency with an unfailing enthusiasm and spirit of fun, and he brought to the work a pure delight in ideas. We will miss his optimism, his enthusiasm and his eerily ever-present smile. We will not miss his scarves.
Please join me in wishing Calle and his family the very best of luck.