New York agency Margeotes Fertitta Powell underwent a steady winding down during the mid-2000s. Ten years earlier, the shop had enjoyed a reputation for creativity and high quality art direction and also ran a clutch of separate direct marketing, interactive and PR satellite shops. In 1999, it became one of the first US outposts for expanding Canadian media and marketing group MDC Partners. However, the agency struggled to maintain its client roster following the departure of founder George Fertitta in 2006, despite a relaunch under the new name MFP New York. Its remaining clients and some staff were eventually merged into MDC stablemate Kirshenbaum Bond (now KBS) in 2007.
George Fertitta originally formed the agency in 1973 at the age of 26, with only six months' experience in advertising. His partner John Margeotes, twenty years older, provided the necessary gravitas, allowing the upstart agency to snare Japanese Kirin beer as its first client. A few months later the two partners became three when creative director John Weiss, joined the firm, which became Margeotes Fertitta & Weiss. Their second account, rock venue Fillmore East, cemented the new company's reputation as a funky creative shop. Business followed for top names including Godiva chocolates and Remy Martin liqueur. By the 1980s, the agency had a strong reputation for classy print ads on behalf of luxury brands.
Margeotes retired from the business at the end of the 1980s, but left his name above the door. It was joined in 1993 by that of strategic planning director Paul Donaher, who became a partner in the newly retitled Margeotes Fertitta Donaher & Weiss. The agency expanded rapidly during the decade, establishing a new reputation as a hot creative shop following a string of admired television commercials. Donaher left mid-decade, and the company slimmed down to Margeotes Fertitta & Partners. At the same time, Fertitta offered equity stakes to a team of of his senior managers.
After another three years of growth, Margeotes Fertitta sold what was reported to be an 80% shareholding in the company to Canadian marketing group MDC for around $20m. Supported by funding from MDC, the agency expanded its direct marketing arm in 2000, recruiting DM veteran Holly Pavlika, and spinning it out as separate unit Margeotes Fertitta & Pavlika. Six months later, Pavlika engineered the acquisition of rival direct marketer Chinnici Direct, and merged the two operations as Pavlika Chinnici Direct, under the Margeotes umbrella. However Pavlika moved on in 2002, joining Grey Direct, and her name was subsequently dropped from Chinnici Direct. Also in 2000, the agency acquired New York PR shop Bratskeir & Co. In 2002, multicultural shop Blur advertising joined the group.
In 2004 the agency's creative director and art director left to set up their own agency, Sugartown Creative, taking two key Bacardi accounts with them. To restore its creative strength, a year later the group absorbed a smaller New York-based creative agency run by Neil Powell and changed its name once more, becoming Margeotes Fertitta Powell. That merger led to the departure of several long-time MFP staffers, and George Fertitta gave up the role of CEO at the beginning of 2006. Mid-year, he left the agency altogether to take over the running of NYC & Co, the body responsible for the city of New York's trade and tourism marketing until 2013. He is currently CEO of Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic enterprise Bloomberg Associates.
In 2007, MDC announced the absorption of MFP into sister agency Kirshenbaum Bond. Creative director Neil Powell left the agency to start up a new creative boutique, We Are Gigantic, initially with backing from MDC. However the company was sued for trademark infringement by an existing agency, Gigantic Marketing, and was forced to drop its name. It was also cut loose by MDC.
Direct marketer Chinnici Direct, corporate communications specialist Bratskeir and multicultural shop Blur advertising were all established as separate units under the main MDC umbrella. In 2005, Advertising Age had ranked Margeotes Fertitta as the #51 US agency brand with revenues of $37m.
Last full revision 22nd June 2020
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