Riley, who is best known for his award-winning work on AMV's long-running campaign for The Economist, will focus on the work of the seven junior teams within the creative department.
Peter Souter, the executive creative director at AMV, said: "I'm being presented with a lot of good ideas but the ads aren't necessarily written as well as I would have liked."
The appointment takes place against a background of growing fears by creative chiefs of a steady erosion of copywriting talent. Declining educational standards and the emphasis by art colleges on "concept" creativity rather than craft skills are being blamed. The trend for ads with big headlines and visuals is believed to be exacerbating the problem.
As the creative catalyst of AMV, Abbott established its tradition of finely crafted copywriting for clients such as The Economist, Sainsbury's and the RSPCA. "We have a great reputation for good writing which David has set, Souter said. "I want to make sure that carries on."
Riley, previously at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, was Souter's first hiring after being named as Abbott's heir apparent in 1996. His agency career covers spells at J. Walter Thompson, DFSD Bozell, Simons Palmer, BMP DDB and Leagas Delaney.