Wieden & Kennedy creative director Jimmy Smith will join the Omnicom Group agency this month as an exec creative director, splitting his time between New York and Los Angeles. In L.A., he'll be operating out of filmmaker Jesse Dylan's office and working to beef up the agency's offerings in the branded-content arena. He will also be working on Pepsi, one of Omnicom's largest clients.
He begins work on Pepsi just as some slack on BBDO's long-time grip on the client has begun to show. Last week, PepsiCo representatives said two other Omnicom shops, TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. and DDB Worldwide, New York, will compete for a shot at the $31 million creative assignment for the Diet Pepsi.
During his time at independent Wieden, Mr. Smith was responsible for helping Nike branch out into nontraditional marketing. He wrote the "Nike Battlegrounds" documentary for MTV and co-published a custom magazine called U Don't Stop. He was co-creator of the sneaker-maker's "Freestyle" spot, which featured basketball stars dancing and dribbling over a beat created by a bouncing ball. And he was creative director on Electronic Arts' NBA Street 2 video game.
Mr. Smith will report to David Lubars, chairman-chief creative officer for BBDO North America.
Hired in June with the ousting of long-time creative head Ted Sann, Mr. Lubars has been charged with expanding the network's arsenal from one based around TV commercials to include more nontraditional marketing methods.
The Jackson Factor
Asked why BBDO makes a good fit, Mr. Smith turned to some of the agency's classic spots for the client he'll initially be attending to. "I am an M.J. fan," he said. "When they did all those Michael Jackson spots back in the day ... I already knew I was going to get into advertising and I knew I wanted to do that some day."
But much has changed since those days, and Mr. Smith's charges reflect that. Working in proximity to Mr. Dylan is expected to give the agency a boost in finding content deals for its clients.
Mr. Lubars said he has been following Mr. Smith's work for years. Prior to coming to BBDO, Mr. Lubars, then president at Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, sought Mr. Smith out as creative director of that agency's New York office.
"This is a guy who's thinking not just how to fill a 30-second box, but what is the big idea and how to deliver that idea," Mr. Lubars said.