Fred and Farid Leave Marcel, Plan FFL

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Hardly known for subtle moves, French creative power duo Fred Raillard and Farid Mokart, better known as simply Fred and Farid, announced this week they would be leaving Publicis Groupe's Marcel to start their own independent venture, Fred Farid Lambert, or FFL, with third partner Christophe Lambert, most recently president of Publicis Conseil. "We want to be the biggest and strongest communication group in Europe," says partner Raillard.

The much-awarded duo made international waves for their multi Lion-winning work at CLM/BBDO (where they'd first worked with Lambert) and then at BBH/London. In late 2002, they moved to the States to work at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners and then returned to France a year and a half ago to help launch the 100% Publicis-owned Marcel as co-presidents.

FFL will open at the beginning of 2007, after Raillard and Mokart devote the rest of this year to stabilizing the business at Marcel, Raillard says. Vincent Bollore, chairman and primary shareholder in holding company Havas, will have a 30% minority share in the venture, while the remaining 70% will be divided equally between the FFL partners. "We are absolutely free to grow the company and sell the company," notes Raillard, adding that FFL would remain independent.

In their less than two years at Marcel Fred and Farid helped to land a number of new clients including Orange, and believe they'd achieved all their original goals for the shop. "In the beginning, Publicis lent us $3million Euro in clients to start with and now, Marcel has won $18 million in accounts in France," Raillard says. "We also helped Publicis to win worldwide accounts worth about $30 million Euro. Plus we created a well-respected brand and hired and trained 70 to 80 really talented people. Basically, we filled our five-year objective in one and a half years, so we thought it was time for us to start our own project. It's a dream come true."

Having worked under the Publicis umbrella, "It's never the same when you report to someone," Raillard continues. "But we have no regrets. Maurice Levy is one of the most talented businessmen in the world and we learned a lot from him. We loved that experience and we really hope the agency is going to keep on doing great stuff, because Marcel is our baby." Publicis USA declined official comment, but several expressed surprise at the short duration of Raillard and Mokart's stay.

The name FFL is derived from its founders' initials, but the letters hold symbolic meaning as well, also standing for the "Forces Francaises Libres," the WWII French freedom forces. "It's a statement," Raillard says. "We're going to be independent and free, and all the independent, talented, free minds from the world will join us."
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