Blake Winfree, Nick Lipton and Adam Vohlidka join the Chicago agency group as Group Creative Directors. Brian Cooper is appointed as Director of Production. Shelby Georgis and Joie Mikitson are promoted to Group Creative Director and Executive Producer, respectively
Havas Chicago is bolstering its creative leadership with the appointment of award-winning creative talent to senior leadership roles and with two key promotions. Blake Winfree is appointed as Group Creative Director at Havas Chicago, and Nick Lipton and Adam Vohlidka are appointed as Group Creative Directors at Annex, a cultural agency powered by Havas. Brian Cooper is also appointed as Head of Production.
In their new roles, Winfree, Lipton and Vohlidka will help drive the agency group’s focus on building meaningful American brands through craft and culture, and will report directly to John Norman, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Chicago. They are the first senior creative leadership hires for the agency group following Norman’s appointment as Chief Creative Officer in March 2019.
Winfree joins Havas from MullenLowe U.S., where he served as Vice President, Creative Director. He began his career as an intern at Fallon Minneapolis, followed by positions at Cramer Krasselt, GMMB and DDB Chicago. Throughout his career, Winfree has worked with prominent brands including United Airlines, Citibank, the United Nations Foundation, Skittles, Royal Caribbean, Hyatt and American Greetings. Winfree’s “World’s Toughest Job” campaign for American Greetings won the Grand Effie in 2015 and he was named to Adweek’s “Creative 100” in 2018. He is also the co-founder of the 25Forty Diversity Project, which exposes diverse high school students to the advertising industry.
Prior to Annex, Lipton spent eight years at Leo Burnett. Beyond his work in advertising, he led creative in-house in the hospitality industry, toured as a journalist, and created imagery for a variety of clients. Lipton brings experience in brand building, content creation and product development, and has worked with brands across a range of industries including hospitality, sports, beer/wine/spirits, personal defense and tech. He also runs a photo book and “stuff” business from his home in Chicago.
An award-winning designer and creative, Vohlidka joins Annex from Translation. As Head of Content Services, he led Translation’s internal production shop and a multi-disciplinary digital content team. Prior to Translation, Vohlidka held various design leadership positions at VH1 and MTV Networks, both part of Viacom Media Networks. Throughout his career, he has worked with notable brands including Google, the NFL, Kaiser Permanente, HBO, Beats by Dre, Nike, State Farm, AT&T, The History Channel, 20th Century Fox, Bose and the NBA.
“Blake, Nick and Adam each bring their own unique super powers to the Chicago creative leadership team,” said Norman. “They are living proof of our agency values to solve problems in insightful, unexpected and meaningful ways. Their ability to mentor and rally teams around shared goals and respectfully push better ideas forward will be invaluable in building a superior craft culture. The addition of these disruptive leaders is a critical step toward our mission to build an A-list agency and be a positive force for change in the industry.”
In his new role as Director of Production, Cooper will be responsible for leading teams to produce innovative work that becomes part of culture and delivers results for clients. He joins Havas from EnergyBBDO, where he served as EVP of Content and Connected Experiences for five years. After beginning his career at MTV, Cooper went on to lead content strategy, content architecture, and production teams for world-class agencies, including Wieden & Kennedy, The Martin Agency, BBDO and others. Throughout his agency career, he has produced work for clients such as Nike, GEICO, Microsoft, Bud Light, Bayer, MARSWrigley, KFC, Michelin and more.
“I had the pleasure of working with Coop on some of the most innovative work in my career,” said Norman. “He redefines production with a hybrid, design-thinking approach. Coop’s energy and love for making things will help to elevate our execution and overall creative product.”
Havas Chicago also announces the promotions of Shelby Georgis and Joie Mikitson. Georgis, currently a Creative Director, has been promoted to Group Creative Director and will report to Norman. Mikitson, currently a Senior Producer, has been promoted to Executive Producer at Annex and will report to Cooper.
“I’m excited to elevate Shelby and Joie to their leadership roles. It didn’t take long after I joined Havas to recognize their natural leadership ability and commitment to creativity,” said Norman. “I know I speak for everyone who works with Shelby and Joie when I say these promotions are very well-deserved.”
Havas Chicago works with iconic brands including Bel Brands, Citi, Coca-Cola, Cracker Barrel, Hefty, Michelin, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Moen, the National Association of REALTORS®, Orbitz, Reynolds, Ragu and Topgolf.
About Havas Chicago
Havas Chicago is committed to building meaningful American brands through craft and culture. The agency brings an unmatched understanding of Millennials’ mindsets and behaviors, and a passion for embracing the emerging trends shaping business and pop culture. Havas Chicago fuses an independent spirit with global scale to support the North American mission to be the most meaningful partner to the modern CMO. Learn more on the website, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.