Calif. Agency Rebrands Itself as Independent Holding Company

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Independent ad agency Butler, Shine & Stern has acquired interactive marketing services firm SF Interactive. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

With the acquisition, Sausalito, Calif.-based Butler Shine has repositioned itself as an independent agency holding company, Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. Butler Shine in 2001 acquired the design group PenaBrand.

Greg Stern named CEO
Greg Stern, the agency's president, becomes CEO of the new operation. SF Interactive's founder-CEO, Bruce Carlisle, will remain in charge of interactive agency, and will become president of the holding company.

"With everything that's going

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on with the holding companies -- from investigations to conflicts -- you get feeling a lot more attention is being paid to independents," Mr. Stern said. He added that he expects the acquisition to enable his shop to provide clients with services ranging from data mining to customer analytics, in addition to creative services.

Mr. Stern's partner, John Butler, co-creative director, said that in a region with numerous creative shops all competing for the same new-business accounts, he hopes the acquisition will be a point of differentiation for Butler Shine.

Doubles agency's size
The acquisition almost doubles the size of Butler Shine. Prior to the acquisition, the agency had 40 employees and $45 million in billings from clients including Einstein Noah's Bagel Corp., Ubi Soft Entertainment and Weider Nutrition. SF Interactive has 35 employees with billings of about $33 million. (PenaBrand currently has 6 employees.)

Mr. Stern said the plan is to move SF Interactive from its San Francisco offices across the Golden Gate Bridge to Butler Shine's Sausalito facility.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Greg Stern was a co-founder and co-creative director of Butler, Shine & Stern.

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