Former Ogilvy Exec Named President of Amalgamated

Mike Kelly Will Handle Day-to-Day Operations at 'Boutique' Agency

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Now that it's reached $100 million in billings, "boutique" agency Amalgamated is facing a familiar problem: It's still small, but too big for its founders to personally supervise every account. So the 3-year-old agency created the post of president and hired former Ogilvy & Mather Senior Partner-Group Account Director Mike Kelly to fill it.
Amalgamated's new president, Mike Kelly
Amalgamated's new president, Mike Kelly

Charles Rosen, one of the four founding partners at the shop, said Mr. Kelly would also optimize operations and manage day-to-day business at the agency, which has more than doubled its business in the last eight months. It's become agency of record for Clearblue Easy, Checkers, Rally's and Turner Broadcast System's Court TV, accounts that in total spent nearly $47 million on U.S. media in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Adding to the roster
The recent wins are added to a roster that already included Unilever's Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream, Fat Tire Amber Ale, two Cablevision brands and Svedka vodka.

"We just came to this very natural stage where we realized to service these pieces of business as well as to grow the agency, we wanted to bring in somebody who really understood the management of real pieces of business," Mr. Rosen said.

Mr. Kelly comes to Amalgamated with big-agency experience and a small-agency sensibility, Mr. Rosen said. While at WPP Group's Ogilvy, Mr. Kelly worked on projects that were entrepreneurial in nature, such as setting up a group that specialized in working with accounts that contributed less than $4 million in fees.

'An entrepreneurial space'
"That kind of experience really firmed up for me that I wanted to get back into more of an entrepreneurial space, that I really wanted to get into working with a small group and really having control over the whole process," the 40-year-old president said.

Mr. Kelly's first responsibility is to strengthen the account team by further training the current account executives and bringing in new ones, Mr. Rosen said. Mr. Kelly said part of the challenge is to lessen dependence on top-tier executives and develop new management.

Ultimately Mr. Kelly will handle day-to-day operations and Mr. Rosen will focus on clients and new-business growth. "Clients will trust us more and let us take the work further if they think that we are a more well-oiled machine operationally," Mr. Rosen said.

'Great client service'
"You get great clients with great thinking," Mr. Kelly said, "and you keep them with great client service."

Leslie Winthrop, founder-managing partner of AAR Partners, echoed the importance of client service. "Clients want to know: Who does the first phone call go to when I need something now or something doesn't work?" she said. As Amalgamated's client list grows, not everyone can call Mr. Rosen, she said.
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