The Player: Hill Holliday lures Sweeney, and A-B keeps work coming

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bryan sweeney is not the only reason Anheuser-Busch Cos. opened its legendary roster to include his new agency, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, but he's a big part of why it keeps landing assignments.

A 10-year veteran of Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, Mr. Sweeney produced Bud Light spots for half his tenure. When the Bay State native, his wife and four children returned to the Boston area in 2000 to spend more time with family, it was off beer accounts and onto Fortune Brands' Titleist and Foot-Joy at Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston. It was great for the duffer, but had the family man spending too much time in out-of-town hotels. When Hill Holliday's chief creative officer, Mike Sheehan, offered him head of production at the Interpublic Group of Cos.' shop late last year, he could halve his travel time.

"The feeling of missing a lot of [family] events really weighed on me," he said. "My biggest fear was to be standing at my kids' graduation and saying `Oh my God. I missed everything."'

It was a boon for Hill Holliday, which had just landed the super-secret assignment that turned into A-B's genuflecting Budweiser Clydesdales in February's Super Bowl. Since Mr. Sweeney started, the agency has added more beer projects. Mr. Sweeney-who has a reputation as one of advertising's nicest people-is quick to credit Mr. Sheehan and Chairman-CEO Jack Connors for their prior relationships with St. Louis. The world's largest brewer, however, says Mr. Sweeney is the reason Hill, Holliday is part of its 10-plus agency fold.

"We knew Bryan's ability to get things done, and we know he has the respect of the creatives we work with," said Bob Lachky, VP-brand management and director of global brand creative at A-B. "He takes impossible tasks and gets them done and doesn't worry us with the details." Details like partially closing the Brooklyn Bridge for two hours one Saturday morning to shoot the Super Bowl spot.

overseeing every phase

Mr. Sweeney brings an ad to life-from storyboard through selecting the director, voice-over, music and deciding how it should be edited. He ran production for Bud Light's "I Love You, Man," and a previous Super Bowl spot that had two guys at a checkout counter with just enough cash for toilet paper or a six-pack of Bud Light. They bought the beer but took it in a paper bag.

"I try to make it better than just what's on paper," Mr. Sweeney said. "Every decision in production can lead to its being ... a better spot."

At Hill Holliday, Mr. Sweeney sees everything that goes out the door and tries to limit his actual productions to five or six per year-down from 20 or 25 and five months on the road in previous incarnations. He still has a cellphone tethered to his belt, but now he's at his kids' baseball games, birthdays, camping trips and school plays. He takes after his own dad-who quit a large ad agency in the 1970s and started his own shop so he devote more time to his four sons.

Fast Facts

Name: Bryan Sweeney

Age: 35

Title: Senior VP-broadcast, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston

Mission: To help bring in more high profile accounts and create award-winning work

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