"What makes Burnett interesting is that it is both timeless and timely," Mr. Kline said in a statement. "It has always known how to build brands that become a big part of our cultural experience. And the infusion of new talent that the agency has been able to attract means it will continue to do so."
No replacement yet
Wieden does not yet have a replacement for Mr. Kline, a Wieden spokeswoman said.
Mr. Kline, 40, will work closely with Leo Burnett USA Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Cheryl Berman. He will join the Chicago-based agency in November.
“It’s kind of like those love-at-first-sight things,” Ms. Berman said. “He’s got the kind of expertise that’s going to go a long way here. He understands big brands, having worked on Coke and Nike.”
Burnett has long been familiar with Mr. Kline's work. He led the agency team at Publicis' Fallon that won the United Airlines business that had been with Burnett for years.
'Capable of being a CEO'
Burnett had been wooing Mr. Kline for about a month and his role is much larger than the typical new-business role held by others in the past, Ms. Berman said. “This is a person capable of being in a CEO position at some point in his career," she said.
Burnett's former president and chief marketing officer, Mary Bishop, who retired in 2001, was the last person to hold the title.
Ms. Berman and Bob Brennan, the former president of Leo Burnett Worldwide who resigned earlier this month, took direct responsibility for new business last year after two years of up and down results.
Leo Burnett Worldwide Chairman-CEO Linda Wolf was more focused on the here and now. “We had new business in mind when we looked at this guy,” she said. “New business in terms of growing with our current clients, growing with new clients and overall marketing of the agency. Right now our focus is truly on growth.”
Joined Wieden in 1997
Mr. Klein joined Wieden in 1997 as global account director on Nike from group director at Fallon, Minneapolis.
At Wieden, Mr. Kline also served as managing director and global account director for the Nike, Coca-Cola Co. and Miller Brewing Co. accounts, and was a key player in restoring the Nike account after it had been split with Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. He began his career in 1985 as a management supervisor at WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, New York.