Mr. Nicholson, who will move from New York to Minneapolis for the position, will report to Periscope President-CEO Liz Ross, also a relatively new member of the agency. Ms. Ross joined Periscope in October after previously serving as chief marketing officer at Mediabrands, Interpublic Group of Cos.' media agency network.
"The evolution of the agency space is changing so dramatically and the one thing I think can't be commoditized is creativity and ideas," said Ms. Ross. "We have a lot of diverse capabilities – packaging, in-store signage, experiential – so to find a creative who can cross all of these things was a challenge but it represented an incredible opportunity to bring that all together."
She added that Mr. Nicholson was a "home run hire" because he's not only "a world-class creative, but an incredibly nice human being."
Mr. Nicholson will oversee 150 staffers in the creative department at Periscope, and his first task is to organize the group into three tiers: design, content and products.
After about three-and-a-half years at McKinney, Mr. Nicholson said he was intrigued with Periscope's independence and the opportunity to be the agency's first CCO. He said he thinks Periscope's wide range of capabilities will allow him to answer the question: "What is the overarching best brand experience you can create for a client?"
Over Mr. Nicholson's career, he's worked at shops including Deutsch, Redscout, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Publicis. He also previously served as chief creative officer at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, working on accounts like Cadbury, Diageo and Rolex.
McKinney, which laid off about 18% of its staff – or 34 full-time employees – in the wake of its Nationwide account loss last month, confirmed that 10 people are currently on the shop's executive team. A McKinney spokesperson said the agency plans on replacing Mr. Nicholson.
"It's a great opportunity to become an owner and the first chief creative officer of a respected independent agency. We love the guy and wish him well," said McKinney Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude in a statement about Mr. Nicholson's departure.