THE NEW YORK TIMES: AMALGAMATED HIRES A NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE
August 18, 2011
A NEW YORK agency that changed hands last year is bringing in a new chief executive in a bid to spur further growth.
Amalgamated, which works for marketers like Ben & Jerry’s, CarMax, Coca-Cola, MSG Networks and Qdoba Mexican Grill, is hiring Brian Martin as chief executive, succeeding Charles Rosen. Mr. Rosen, who was one of the three founders of Amalgamated in 2003, is leaving to pursue what he described as his longtime interests in public affairs and progressive politics.
The arrival of Mr. Martin is to be formally announced on Friday. It comes 11 months after a majority stake in Amalgamated was acquired by Eric Silver, a creative executive who left DDB Worldwide in New York to join Amalgamated as chief creative officer. Mr. Silver continues in that post, and is the majority owner of Amalgamated; Mr. Martin is acquiring an unspecified minority share in the agency as he comes aboard.
Mr. Martin, who is 51, has worked in management posts for agencies that include Deutsch, JWT and what is now Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners. His specialty was business development, helping agencies attract new clients. Mr. Martin also served as chief marketing officer and chief executive of Qtopics, an online polling service.
For the last five years, Mr. Martin has run his own consultancy in New York, Source Martin, where he worked on agency reviews and other assignments for marketers like AT&T, Citibank and MetLife. Source Martin is being dissolved as Mr. Martin arrives at Amalgamated, effective on Sept. 1.
The moves are among a recent reshuffling of the executive suites at agencies that has involved many prominent industry figures. The increasing challenges that agencies face as they seek to keep up with changes in consumer behavior, technology and the economy are leading to more changes in top posts.
“I think it’s the most exciting time in my lifetime to be in this business,” Mr. Martin said in a phone interview. He compared it to “the beginning of the TV era” in the early 1950s and added, “The next 10 years is when the most interesting things are going to get done.”
For that reason, Mr. Martin said, the place to be is “in the middle of the action” — that is, at an agency — rather than on the periphery at someplace like a consultancy.
Joining Amalgamated represents “an opportunity to come into a place where you don’t have to fix things, just turn up the volume,” he added.
Mr. Silver, 44, said he was pleased with results at the agency since his arrival, citing an expansion to about 40 employees, from 34 a year ago; new digital work like a “Fair Tweets” campaign for Ben & Jerry’s on Twitter, which was tied to World Fair Trade Day; and the addition of new clients like CarMax.
Still, “I want us to play on a bigger stage,” Mr. Silver said, “expand, grow bigger.”
Mr. Martin “knows how agencies operate, knows how clients operate,” he added, “and his new-business record at his prior agencies seems pretty impressive.” That should offset any potential drawbacks from Mr. Martin’s never having been a chief executive at an agency, Mr. Silver said.
Mr. Rosen, in a separate phone interview, also endorsed Mr. Martin, calling him “a wonderful addition” to Amalgamated who will “fill in the mortar” around the agency’s “bricks” of its digital, creative and strategic work.
Mr. Rosen, 44, said he would sell his minority stake in Amalgamated as he steps down. He will subsequently serve as a consultant, he added, working with the agency on projects.
Although “I have such mixed emotions about leaving,” Mr. Rosen said, he agreed with an opinion expressed by Mr. Silver at a recent dinner.
“He said, ‘You know, Charles, when you talk about politics, your eyes light up,’ and it made me think,” said Mr. Rosen, who has worked in advertising for 13 years at agencies that in addition to Amalgamated included Cliff Freeman & Partners.
“As I look at the current political climate,” Mr. Rosen said, “the discourse has shifted so far to the right that I felt it was time to take everything I’ve learned in the industry, at Amalgamated, about cultural strategy and branding, and apply it.”
“Look at how shockingly effective the Tea Party was from a marketing perspective,” Mr. Rosen said, adding that he would like to work on “creating an entity that would be a new populist movement” to serve as a liberal counterpoint to the Tea Party.
Mr. Rosen’s departure will leave only one of the three founders of Amalgamated still at the agency: Doug Cameron, the chief strategy officer. (Fiona McBride, president of Amalgamated, joined the agency in 2008.)
The third founder, Jason Gaboriau, was executive creative director before Mr. Silver’s arrival. He sold his stake in Amalgamated to Mr. Silver and left the agency; he is now a co-executive creative director of the Los Angeles office of Crispin Porter & Bogusky, part of MDC Partners.
-The New York Times, August 18, 2011