Calle Sjoenell, the deputy chief creative officer at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, is heading to crosstown rival Ogilvy, New York, where he will take on the post of chief creative officer.
It's a key role that Ogilvy has been looking to fill for just under a year; Mr. Sjoenell succeeds Lars Bastholm, who exited Ogilvy last spring. Mr. Sjoenell will officially start on April 9 and will report to Ogilvy North America Chief Creative Officer Steve Simpson. He'll also partner with Alfonso Marian, who joined last year as the chief creative officer of OgilvyOne from Shackleton in Madrid. The duo will team up to lead the N.Y. agency's creative output.
"I've worked with big clients all my life," said Mr. Sjoenell. "But it all comes down to the fact that there's a group of people--client and agency, and you need to do great work. It doesn't change if you're big or small--how you manage to do that is all there is. At bigger agencies, there are big advantages, and there are things that happen you have to make better. That's the fun of it."
Mr. Sjoenell says the courting period was relatively short--about a month. He wasn't entertaining any plans to move. "I worked with John (Patroulis, BBH CCO) and he's fantastic. I worked with Google every day. I figured I had the best job in advertising, but when something like this comes along, you have to take it."
And by "this," he means the opportunity to work with Mr. Simpson--"I felt like I really connected with him--he's a creative legend extraordinaire. I felt like we wanted the same thing," as well as the chance to work on clients like IBM, Amex and Ikea. "I can't hide that working with Ikea would be amazing," he said. "It's a matter of national pride."
Mr. Sjoenell has a broad range of experience in both digital and traditional sectors. His creative career began in his native Sweden, where he co-founded an interactive boutique Moonwalk, which originally made websites and CD-ROMs. The boutique eventually evolved into ad agency Starring, where he served as creative director.
Mr. Sjoenell and his brother Pelle landed in the U.S. in 2006 as group creative directors at Fallon in Minneapolis, following a similar path to other well-known Swedish creatives Paul Malmstrom (Mother N.Y.) and Linus Karlsson (McCann). While at Fallon, the Sjoenell brothers oversaw notable work like Sci-Fi Channel's Infinite Oz campaign. The following year, they joined BBH, New York as creative directors doing work for Axe and eventually went on to steer much-celebrated work for Google and help oversee U.S. creative for BBH.
Now that Mr. Sjoenell will be at Ogilvy, the industry may wonder what becomes of his longtime partnership with his brother. He says, however, that outside of the everyday phone calls between siblings and certain Google projects, they had been working separately for the past two years, with brother Pelle leading creative out of BBH L.A. while Mr. Sjoenell oversaw Google in New York.
As for the fate of Google, which, thanks in large part to the stewardship of Mr. Sjoenell ranked third most creatively awarded advertiser in Creativity's 2011 Awards Report, "In the hands of John Patroulis and [BBH ACD] Jesse Juriga, I can't think of two more capable people to handle it," he said.
In terms of his immediate plans for the Ogilvy N.Y.s creative department, Mr. Sjoenell said, "At first, I'm going to listen a lot. Listening is a very important skill in advertising. Anytime you take this kind of job, you can't know everything before you start working there. They have lots of ways they work that I need to learn and understand, and I'll probably take it from there. I think with a job overseeing many brands you really need to take in how they do it, and if there are things that can be done better, of course I'll try to do that."