Mackie Biernacki hires first president

Steve Carli brings strategic and management know-how to help steer the agency's growth.

Mackie Biernacki president Steve Carli (centre), with agency co-founders Steph Mackie (left) and Mark Biernacki.

Mackie Biernacki has hired Steve Carli as president, the first time the Toronto independent has had someone in the role as it looks to drive future business growth.

Carli has spent the better part of the last eight years as president of Red Urban Toronto, though prior to that, Carli led the Chicago office of Zig as managing partner after it acquired Hadrian’s Wall, an agency he founded in 2001. Holding company Omnicom closed Red Urban earlier this year following the loss of the Subaru account.

With agency co-founders Steph Mackie and Mark Biernacki both coming from creative backgrounds, it was looking to add “a strategic thinker to complete that third piece to problem solving,” Biernacki told strategy in an email, referring to Carli’s background in strategic planning. In addition, it was looking for someone with agency management experience to help manage future growth.

“We know that management is an essential part to running an agency, and thus far it has been something that we have shared,” Biernacki said. “But we know that there are some aspects of it where Steve has much more experience than we do. We always knew that a president was what the agency needed as it grew. But we were very, very selective to make sure we were all on the same page.”

Mackie Biernacki’s headcount fluctuates as it brings people in to serve specific projects – Biernacki says it is typically around nine but can swell to upwards of 18 – but it has added new full-time staff this year. Among those hires is account director Eva Andrews, who returned to agency side in June after a year as senior marketing manager at cannabis company Emblem. In the spring, the shop also hired the creative team of copywriter Brenna O’Leary and art director Ali Forooghi.

The growth has facilitated a move to new office space for the agency, located in Toronto’s Bloordale neighbourhood. The workspace is located in a storefront, which the agency hopes will allow it to conduct “informal qualitative research” with consumers in the neighbourhood, Biernacki said, while also providing a retail component for its clients.