Kurt Fries named CCO of McGarryBowen Chicago

Kurt Fries

Congratulations are in order for well-liked and respected advertising veteran, Kurt Fries, as he has been promoted to CCO of Mcgarrybowen Chicago.

According to an Adweek article published last weekend, the agency is shuffling its U.S. creative leadership as Matthew Bull, chief creative officer in New York, has decided to leave the agency.

Fries, who is also married to award-winning creative director Debby Fries, joined as group creative director in 2012, has led creative on Chicago’s largest accounts, including Disney Destinations (Parks, Resorts, Cruise Line and multicultural communications). He also helped win Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Clorox brands Brita and Kingsford.

U.S. CCO Ned Crowley was quoted in the article as saying, “Kurt’s passion and leadership is extraordinary, rallying our people and clients alike. I have complete confidence that Kurt’s best days are ahead, and expect that he will continue to inspire great work that is highly effective for our clients.”

Ned Crowley

Fries stated in the same article, “The Chicago office has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past several years, and I am fortunate to be part of such a successful team. We have a deep bench of creative talent of which I am tremendously proud to work side-by-side. Together, we are going to continue push the boundaries of creativity to drive brands.”

Several sources confirm that the New York shop did not give a reason for Bull’s departure, but it is understood to be related to a personal matter, as a close family member of Bull’s is continuing to recover from a car accident that happened earlier this year. Bull is expected to exit the agency by the end of the month.

U.S. CCO Ned Crowley, who just had his indie film Middle Man released, will serve as interim CCO in New York until the agency finds a successor to Bull.

Reel Chicago can’t wait to see what Fries does.

WPP folds Possible Worldwide into Wunderman

The Wall Street Journal and The Drum report that WPP, the ad industry’s largest holding group, is going to fold its Possible Worldwide unit into Wunderman as part of its ongoing effort to reign in overheads.

Citing sources close to the development, the title reports WPP plans to merge the two sister agencies given the potential synergies such a move would achieve.

The pair have several clients in common, including Microsoft, and such a merger of interests would be in keeping with its strategic ambition of providing clients with a more simple offering, plus greater integration among it 200,000-plus headcount.

Hilly Reps is now Sonia Reps

In a role reversal of sorts, advertising veteran Sonia Blum has purchased Hilly Reps from long-time staple in the commercial industry, Hillary Herbst, establishing Sonia Reps. Herbst will continue working with the company.

“The plan was always that Sonia would take over as I wound down,” said Herbst. “She brings an understanding of both sides of the business, having spent eight years at FCB and two years at Havas before she started working with me in 2012. Sonia is terrific at what she does, and invested in seeing the company succeed, so I couldn’t be happier.”

When asked why she is so passionate about the business, Blum responded, “I’ve always loved advertising, and having been on both the agency and production sides I have a good understanding of the big picture. I’m a matchmaker and love being partners in the creative process: helping creatives find the right production resources for each project.”

“It’s an exciting time to be in advertising as the landscape continually changes and evolves,” Blum says. “I’m proud of the high level of talent on our roster and there is nowhere I’d rather be than leading Sonia Reps and the companies we represent into the future.”

Their new contact information is sales@soniareps.com, sonia@soniareps.com and hillary@soniareps.com. www.SoniaReps.com

Gravitas Ventures acquires Fresh-Films comedy

Fresh-Films’ 2016 family comedy feature, Traveling Without Moving, starring former Chicagoan Stephanie Andrea Baron, Anna Benuzzi and Steve Guttenberg, will be released through Gravitas Ventures this Fall.

The distributor plans to release the Rock Island-based production company’s film on Cable VOD, Digital VOD/SVOD and is said to be looking at a DVD, Netflix and other releases.

According to sources, the title will be changed to Alternate Universe: A Rescue Mission.

Follow Colin Costello on Twitter @colincostello10.