"You want to see a picture of me and my Wahoo?" Mr. Dweck said when asked for a photograph of his new partner. He caught the fish during the American Association of Advertising Agencies conference last month in Bermuda, where he also reeled in the Four A's award for 1999's best agency with billings of $30 million or less.
"That's why I joined the agency--for the fish," said Mr. Best, whose title will be executive creative director. "I heard that you get to fish with Michael when you work here."
Two years ago, Mr. Dweck's agency was called Dweck & Campbell and Mr. Dweck's partner was Lori Campbell, with whom he formed the agency in 1992. The team produced some award-winning advertising, including a spot for Dial-A- Mattress that featured a surly man in an Arctic Ground Squirrel costume who ordered a bed to hibernate for the winter in his basement, far from his nagging wife. The spot won a Gold Lion at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes.
When Mr. Dweck and Ms. Campbell parted ways two years ago, Mr. Dweck decided to go it alone.
A few months ago, Mr. Dweck cast about for a new creative director who also would be a partner with a stake in the agency. "We needed to take that step in order to grow the business, to take it to the next level," Mr. Dweck said.
The hiring of Mr. Best coincides with new growth at the agency. Dweck! recently won three new accounts: Imix.com, a site that enables users to customize their own CDs and DVDs, spending about $3 million; Site59, a last-minute travel booking site, spending $8 million to $10 million; and Foodline.com, a restaurant location and reservation site with spending close to $7 million.
`SOLID' DOT-COM CLIENTS
"We chose to work with these dot-coms because they're solid," Mr. Dweck said. "They're well funded and won't be going away in a week." Network TV, print and out-of-home campaigns for these accounts will break in the next few weeks.
Mr. Best's resume at Freeman, where he worked for 41/2 years, includes work on Fox Sports, Hollywood Video, Little Caesars Pizza, Outpost.com and Staples. An Art Center College of Design graduate, Mr. Best began his career in advertising at the shop then called Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, as an art director. After two years he jumped to Freeman and now has hopscotched over to Dweck!
"I've always liked the work here," Mr. Best said of Dweck! "It's a good opportunity for me. Michael's a character, and that's good in advertising."
The agency also has made two other new hires: Joe Nio, 30, a new planner and recent graduate of the Ad Center at Virginia Commonwealth University; and a new senior account director, Meredith Field, 25, formerly an account director at Gyro, Philadelphia.
All told, the agency now has billings of about $30 million. Other accounts include Comedy Central, UPN and project work for Seagram Americas' Absolut Kurant vodka. Dweck! also is currently courting an undisclosed fast-food company and a magazine.
"We are looking for your second- and third-tier clients, the ones that are willing to do great work and take some chances," Mr. Dweck said.
Dweck, who has a reputation for hard-hitting humor, has taken many clients down his oddball path before, and some ended up without the stomach for it. Dial-A-Mattress split from the agency two years ago over "philosophical differences." The award-winning work by Dweck & Campbell barely saw the light of day.
Besides the Four A's honor, the shop racked up wins this year for UPN and Top Driver driving school at shows for the Art Directors Club, Association of Independent Commercial Producers, One Club for Art & Copy and the New York Addys.
Meanwhile, the agency is moving offices to a nondescript New York neighborhood at Eighth Avenue and 34th Street. In order to create cachet, the agency decided to rebrand the area itself. "We settled on Nietzsche, as in north of Chelsea," Mr. Dweck said.