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Hires, Wins & Business

Swirl mcgarrybowen Names Mike Wente as Chief Creative Officer

Mike to lead creative as the newly combined agency expands its West Coast presence

Swirl mcgarrybowen Names Mike Wente as Chief Creative Officer

Ned Crowley, U.S. Chief Creative Officer of global award-winning creative agency mcgarrybowen (mb), announced today that Mike Wente has been named Chief Creative Officer, Swirl mcgarrybowen.

In his new role, Wente will lead creative teams focused on delivering breakthrough brand experiences in a digitally connected age for clients including Intel, Clorox, Microsoft, Dole, Juniper, Conduent, CA Technologies, and eBay.

Wente will report to Crowley and be based in San Francisco.


Most recently, Wente was with VML for more than a decade. He was named Co-Chief Creative Officer, North America in 2017. Wente’s results were immediately visible, as VML was named #3 in Ad Age’s 2018 A-List—its third year in a

row—amassing double-digit business growth and a creative surge, including being ranked sixth among all agencies across North America at Cannes Lions. His impact extended well beyond the creative department, bringing together

multiple disciplines to create a culture of collaboration and innovation across VML. Wente also was accountable for the newly acquired Rockfish team in Cincinnati.


Wente’s creative experience stretches across global brands in technology, sports, entertainment, media, consumer electronics, automotive, CPG, and retail verticals, including New Balance, Motorola, AMC, Miami Tourism,

International Olympic Committee, NBA, LEGOLAND, Tyson Foods, MasterCard, and Dell. His work has been awarded with Cannes Lions, D&AD, Clios, London International Awards, Webbys, and the One Show.

When mcgarrybowen acquired Swirl last December, it transformed its West Coast presence from an outpost to a full-spectrum creative innovation powerhouse that lives at the intersection of innovation, technology, and human

engagement. The acquisition grew the agency in size and essentially created a new entity, exponentially expanding its capabilities in digital and social-first marketing, branded content, and eCRM.


John Berg, partner at Swirl and current CEO of Swirl mcgarrybowen, said, “I am thrilled to welcome Mike to San Francisco. We are fortunate to have found someone who is a digital native, but who is focused on meeting the

challenges of our clients with ideas, not channels. That’s what makes Mike the ideal creative partner as we elevate the power of our new combined entity.”


Over the past year, mcgarrybowen has been on a renaissance, dramatically growing revenues in the past year with strong organic and new business growth, landing American Express, Subway, Verizon, Marriott, Dole, and Conduent,

among others. Accolades are rolling in for recent creative work, like the American Express campaign featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda; Oscar Mayer’s innovative brand actions, including the first bacon-backed cryptocurrency,

Bacoin; and for the surprisingly bold work for Subway in the newest “Take a Break from the Burger” campaign.


Crowley also doubled down on mcgarrybowen’s commitment to creativity by infusing new talent alongside a strongcreative bench of seasoned pros. Besides Wente, recent hires include Matt Ian, joining from Droga5 as CCO of mbNY;

Julie Scelzo from Pandora as Global ECD on American Express; and Justin Walsh from BBDO as mbNY’s new Chief Design Officer.


Crowley explained why Wente was the right creative leader for San Francisco, “Mike is that rare creative talent—a platform thinker with a true talent for extending ideas into every fiber of a company, carrying them to the world and

culture outside. What we saw in Mike was a strong creative leader who knew how to win awards and build an office, but also values the importance of an agency’s culture. That was really important to us as we continue to grow and

evolve with our West Coast partners at Swirl mcgarrybowen.” Crowley added, “Hey, Mike’s been a New Yorker, so we knew we had something good going to entice him to move across the country.”


Wente said, “I have long admired mcgarrybowen because of their reputation in building big creative platforms for some of the world’s biggest brands. When I saw the acquisition of Swirl it signalled their continued transformation and

a great creative opportunity. mcgarrybowen has demonstrated momentum in recent years across the board, and I genuinely believe that the San Francisco office is poised culturally and creatively to accelerate continued growth and

be a real star in the network.”


U.S. President Patrick Lafferty, said “Mike is an incredibly versatile creative leader—with digital and big brand experience.” He not only navigates across mediums, he operates in an interconnected ecosystem.”


Wente will join Swirl mcgarrybowen’s leadership team headed by CEO John Berg; Tasha McVeigh, Chief Culture Officer; Kate Walters, Executive Planning Director, Head of Strategy; Rob Chen, Managing Director, Media Services;

and newly appointed U.S. Chief Innovation Officer, Greg Johnson. From mcgarrybowen’s San Francisco office in the Presidio, he will have a daily view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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