But when the 38-year-old Wisconsin native and Green Bay Packers diehard this week takes over the new San Francisco office of London-based Leagas Delaney, he will give the British a taste of northern California-style agency entrepreneurship.
"I'm building an American agency in San Francisco that has a British parent," Mr. Rooney said. "I'm not walking with a yoke around my neck with someone saying, `You pull this wagon for us in the States.'*"
The home office apparently has the same thinking.
NOT A CLONE
"It was never in our interest to clone Leagas Delaney, London, in San Francisco other than the standards of quality of the creative work," said CEO Bruce Haines.
Leagas moved into the U.S. about a year ago to support client Adidas, which has been developing more of its new products in the U.S. instead of Germany. After a brief stint in Portland, Ore., the U.K. shop decided to move to that creative epicenter by the Bay.
The office, eventually to be located in San Francisco's bawdy North Beach section because it resembles the London office's West End environment, has an eclectic team of 10, including an Irish account director, Mike O'Neill, and a Scottish planning director, Kieran Darby. It also will be the part-time home of agency co-founder Tim Delaney, who remains a hands-on creative director.
As general manager, Mr. Rooney will be responsible for Adidas, as well as building new business. Already, the shop has been involved in new business by supplying information on the U.S. luxury goods market for a Leagas pitch against Bartle Bogle Hegarty and M&C Saatchi Agency for the $15 million global account of Patek Philippe Swiss watches.
And Mr. Rooney will have a hand in picking the shop's creative director, an area in which he is most qualified. Early in his career, Mr. Rooney worked with Hal Riney at Hal Riney & Partners; for the past five years, he has been account director on the $160 million Levi Strauss & Co. account at Foote, Cone & Belding, most of the time under the late Mike Koelker, the exec VP-executive creative director who crafted Levi's into one of the world's top brands.
Mr. Rooney helped build Levi Strauss from an account driven by campaigns for 501 jeans and Dockers to one with as many as 10 separate campaigns, including Slates, Levi's latest line of dress slacks for men, set to debut later this year.
LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITY
Colleagues wondered what could have enticed Mr. Rooney-who as senior VP-worldwide account director on the Levi Strauss account, held what many considered one of the best account jobs in the country-to jump ship. He said it was "the opportunity," not the money, rumored at something like $500,000 a year.
"It ain't even close," Mr. Rooney said, noting Adidas' worldwide billings are only $55 million.