CRISPIN BUYS MINORITY STAKE IN FUSEPROJECT

Yves Behar Agency Acclaimed for Industrial Design Work

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Further stocking its nontraditional creative arsenal, Crispin Porter & Bogusky has bought a minority stake in the San Francisco-based design and branding shop Fuseproject, run by Yves Behar.

Design-oriented products
The deal gives Crispin, long known for crafting innovative media programs that reach consumers in unexpected places, yet another way to help marketers build brands. The success of design-oriented products like Apple’s iPod and Target department stores has put the disciplines of product- and retail-design on the radar screens of many marketers and agencies. Recently, Omnicom Group’s BBDO Worldwide announced plans to add a design function.

In Fuseproject, Crispin has bought into one of the most renowned studios in its space. In this year’s Industrial Design Excellence Awards, it finished third, behind Ideo and Design Continuum, with five awards. Over the past five years, it’s the fourth most awarded shop. It has worked for marketers such as Toshiba, Birkenstock and Swarovski.

Crispin’s stake in Fuseproject is 20%, according to an agency spokeswoman. Financial details weren’t available.

Worked on BMW Mini account
Crispin's chairman, Chuck Porter, said the agency has been in talks with Mr. Behar for about two and half years, since the two shops were introduced through work for BMW Mini, a Crispin client until two weeks ago when it resigned the account to take on the Volkswagen of America business. For the Mini launch, the ad agency created a well-regarded print- and outdoor-heavy ad campaign that by and large eschewed TV, while Fuseproject designed lifestyle gear for the car. Fuseproject also worked on packaging for Burger King, another Crispin client.

In an interview, Mr. Porter said Fuseproject will be incorporated into new-business and client work, though he added that the deal wasn’t driven by growth priorities or pleas from clients for a design capability.

Shared philosophy
“It didn’t come from our clients,” he said. “Yves shares our philosophy that brands are built from the inside out. Design is a fundamental part of people’s perceptions of a brand.”

This is the first such deal for MDC Partners-backed Crispin, putting aside its shared financial position with the Miami Ad School. Mr. Porter said similar deals, in pop culture-related fields like music, film, and fashion, could be in the agency’s future. But he added: “There are no plans on the table.”

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