Richmond, Va. --
Ad executive Helayne Spivak will take over as head of VCU
Brandcenter in August and among her first responsibilities will be
learning to drive.
"My whole life is in New York. And as a lifelong New Yorker (with
access to public transportation and cabs), I don't know how to drive,"
she said Tuesday.
Spivak has been named director of the Brandcenter, succeeding Rick
Boyko, who is retiring from the graduate-level advertising school after
She currently is chief creative officer of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, a division of Saatchi & Saatchi.
During her career, she has worked on campaigns for Burger King, Kodak, MasterCard, General Motors and UPS.
Spivak said she has followed happenings at the Brandcenter over the years and is impressed by the graduates she has run across.
"While we were staffing, (the Brandcenter) would be brought up as
having terrific students as well as very progressive and relevant
curriculum. And I thought that was attractive," she said.
Spivak takes over at one of the preeminent advertising programs in the country Aug. 15.
"At this point in my career — I've loved it here at Saatchi &
Saatchi Wellness — what would I do next wouldn't be another agency and
that's why VCU became a very exciting, new challenge and a very
important way to stay current with everything that's going on in the
world," she said.
Mike Hughes, president of Richmond-based ad shop The Martin Agency
and a member of the Brandcenter's board of directors, said in statement
that Spivak "will be a forward-thinking, idea-based, humane
thought-leader — and a wonderful nurturer of young talents."
"Helayne Spivak will bring humanity, wisdom and humor to this very important industry position," he said.
Diane Cook-Tench, who was the founding director at what was then
called the Adcenter, recently spent time with Spivak in New York at a
workshop held by entrepreneur, author and public speaker Seth Godin.
"While Helayne has a storied past, she's focused on work being done today and tomorrow," Cook-Tench said.
"Her forward thinking and embrace of current technologies will ensure
that change continues to be the norm at the Brandcenter. The school was
founded on innovative curriculum, and its courses have been updated and
changed during every year of its existence."
Spivak's hiring come a little more than a year after the Brandcenter
began a nationwide search looking for a replacement for Boyko.
Boyko, who retires July 1, came to what is now called the Brandcenter
after stepping down as co-president and chief creative officer of
Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc.
He expanded the program's already national reputation, making it one
of the top-rated advertising schools in the country with graduates
working at some of the top agencies in the industry.
During his tenure, the school moved into a new building on South
Jefferson Street in Richmond. Boyko and his wife donated $1 million to
Boyko was traveling and not available for comment.
Peter Coughter, a longtime professor at Brandcenter and president of
the ad agency Coughter & Co., said he's happy with the choice. "I've
known of Helayne's reputation for years," he said. "She is a truly
accomplished creative person, having worked with some of the legendary
people in the advertising business, producing memorable work throughout
her career. She's down to earth, smart and funny. And funny never
Spivak, who wants to help the industry "at the source," said she's
hoping to get to Richmond in the couple of weeks to find an apartment —
and to begin learning to drive.