Bill Fitzgerald began work Monday as creative director at Thoma Thoma, the brand marketing firm. His hiring completed a sort of big-league trade with CJRW in the Little Rock advertising world.
Fitzgerald, 57, replaces Wade McCune, who left Thoma Thoma in April to join CJRW as creative director. Fitzgerald jumped from CJRW, where he was associate creative director and vice president. He had been at CJRW since 2014.
"I was actually at CJRW two different times. The first time was '97 to '07, and then I was at Heifer International," said Fitzgerald, who was creative director for the Arkansas-based charity, which fights world hunger by providing animals and supporting sustainable agriculture in impoverished areas worldwide. "The switch was pretty much a coincidence. I had been looking for another opportunity for a while, and I had known Martin and Melissa Thoma for a long time and respected their organization."
Martin Thoma, the branding expert who leads the firm with his wife, Melissa, said Fitzgerald was an ideal choice because of his deep experience in building strong brands and his work with state, national and international brands.
"We aren't a typical ad agency," Thoma said. "We help clients fully embrace and implement their brand throughout all aspects of their business. We needed a creative director who can be both amazingly imaginative and keenly strategic. Bill is a super talent and a proven hand. We were really happy to be able to land a guy with relationships in Arkansas and a tremendous track record."
Fitzgerald, a graduate of Millsaps College in Mississippi, started in advertising in Jackson and has worked with some of the South's top agencies. At Heifer, he developed multimedia campaigns and unified the organization's brand, according to a Thoma news release.
Thoma said that his firm searched "far and wide" before hiring Fitzgerald. "We had probably 25 or 30 submissions, including some top talent," he said. "I was gratified to find there were so many qualified people interested in Arkansas and in our firm."
He said his first day in the Thoma's Riverdale headquarters had been busy, but interesting.
"I'm liking it already, and having a good time," he said.