GMMB Taps Kirk Souder as Exec Creative Director

DC Shops Gain More Visibility in Hot Campaign Season

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Former Publicis & Hal Riney President-Executive Creative Director Kirk Souder will become executive creative director of Omnicom Group's GMMB in Washington. It's yet another sign of increased visibility for Washington shops amid continued strong spending on political and public-policy campaigns.

GMMB is one of the top shops for Democratic candidates. Its partner Jim Margolis is co-head of Sen. Barack Obama's campaign ad team -- a campaign GMMB also buys media for. Since early last year GMMB has bought more than $90 million in media for the Obama campaign.
Kirk Souder
Kirk Souder
GMMB is also handling advertising and media for a number of other high-profile Democratic candidates this year. On the public-policy side, it handles the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save Darfur Coalition and others. The agency has offices in Washington, Los Angeles and London, and a 200-person staff.

Mr. Souder, 46, is co-founder of Los Angeles agency Ground Zero. He left San Francisco-based Publicis & Hal Riney in 2004 to get a degree in psychology, spend more time with family and consult. He had been based in Los Angeles and most recently consulted for Granite Pass.

He said the new position -- he also will be a partner at GMMB -- came out of a consulting request from GMMB's Los Angeles office.

While a supporter of Mr. Obama, Mr. Souder said it was the appeal of the agency's public-policy work, rather than the possibility of campaign work, that prompted his move eastward. "I came to Washington because [it's] where I really wanted to go with my work and my career," he said. "I wanted to apply my craft and skills to things that have a good impact in people's lives."

GMMB managing partner Raelynn Olson said Mr. Souder represented "an incredible mix of creative talent. He shares our passion, and we are always looking for ways to improve our offering."

She said the hiring could give GMMB an opportunity to pitch advertising it hadn't previously pitched.

GMMB is among several Washington shops founded on political advocacy that have sought to move increasingly into doing corporate work on public policy.
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