PLAYER PROFILE: McCann's Moehlenkamp takes Microsoft challenge

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Kevin moehlenkamp is gearing up to take on one of the most challenging jobs in advertising. Newly named exec VP-executive creative director at McCann-Erickson/A&L, San Francisco, the former Delaware chicken farmer on June 1 becomes chief creative on the account of beleaguered Microsoft Corp.

Mr. Moehlenkamp, 36, a graduate of the University of Delaware with a B.S. in visual communications, is the third creative named to the post this year. Steve Sweitzer left the agency earlier this year after a short tenure to freelance. Subsequently, McCann named Gary Topolewski, then exec VP-chief creative officer at FCB Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., to the post, but days before he was to begin work, he accepted a job at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., as executive creative director.

Dave Moore, 38, senior VP-group creative director at McCann, New York, now takes Mr. Moehlenkamp's former title in Detroit, becoming exec VP-executive creative director.

"It's a tossup whether Kevin is a better leader or creative person," said Jonathan Cranin, exec VP-executive creative director at McCann-Erickson North America. "Kevin has been my first choice for some time and, in a way, we got lucky because the job became open at the right time for him," he added.


Mr. Moehlenkamp is now beginning a crash course in technology, a subject he thought he knew a lot about until he began studying his new client. Working with Mr. Cranin, Mr. Moehlenkamp will be responsible for developing a creative strategy to show off Microsoft's Internet strength while not antagonizing the federal government or the judge in the company's antitrust case, who may break the company into two -- one consisting of its operating systems and one for its applications division.

"[Mr. Moehlenkamp] needs to get [consumers] to ignore the judge and pay attention to the retail clerk," one ad executive said.

Mr. Moehlenkamp acknowledges he doesn't yet have the answers. But that hasn't deterred him, he said, adding that he knows what it's like to spend days at back-breaking labor, having done time cleaning the coops on his family's chicken farm.

"For the rest of my life, I will appreciate the honor of being in the field of advertising," he said, a leap he made after college.


Mr. Moehlenkamp credits his tenure from 1989 to 1998 at BBDO Worldwide, New York, with teaching him the art of filming TV commercials. There, he worked on Federal Express, Visa International and PepsiCo's Pepsi and Pizza Hut brands, and produced what he considers his best spot -- an ad for HBO that won a Clio award in 1994.

The commercial promoted a boxing match featuring British fighter Lenox Lewis. As the boxer and his challenger went at it in the ring, voice-over noted how ferocious Mr. Lewis was, then mentioned how British he was. The boxer then went to the side of the ring where a butler gave him and his opponent tea and crumpets as they talked about their "mums."

Contributing: Tobi Elkin.

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