BSSP Acquires Creative Boutique Union Made

Shop's Founder Keith Cartwright Named Executive Creative Director

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(From l.) BSSP's Tom Coates, John Butler and Keith Cartwright
(From l.) BSSP's Tom Coates, John Butler and Keith Cartwright Credit: BSSP

Independent agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners has acquired creative boutique Union Made, bringing the shop's founder Keith Cartwright on as executive creative director.

Mr. Cartwright will team with BSSP vet Tom Coates, who is being promoted from creative director to executive creative director. The pair will take the reigns on running the agency's creative department, reporting to agency founder John Butler, who moves into the newly created post of chief creative officer.

"Like any company that wants to stay relevant, you empower people and that's what this is about," said Mr. Butler. "I finally found two guys who can take this place to the next level. I'm not going anywhere tomorrow, but I'd be lying if there wasn't a succession place in mind." The agency's current client roster includes Mini, HTC, Nature Made, Greyhound, Blue Shield of California, Logan's Roadhouse and El Pollo Loco.

Mr. Butler says Mr. Cartwright will bring an art director/designer point of view and a "very interesting digital-first perspective." Mr. Coates, a writer, will be a good balance to that, bringing his decade of experience at the agency and knowledge of its various clients. "He's been involved in everything from Converse to Mini." Added Mr. Butler, "I think I've done really well in hiring. I hire people I think are better than me, and I let them do their work."

Mr. Cartwright founded L.A.-based Union Made four years ago, after working at top creative shops including The Martin Agency, Wieden & Kennedy, TBWA/Chiat/Day and Ogilvy & Mather. The shop's clients include GE, Lego, Nike and others.

"It had been four years and I wasn't particularly looking to do anything, but I always knew about BSSP and always admired their independence and work," Mr. Cartwright said. "I got excited talking to John about what they'd been doing for 22-plus years, and it felt a lot like what I was doing, but on a grander scale."

As for Union Made, "we were a small boutique agency, and with that comes the struggles of being a boutique agency," he said. "A lot of those struggles are fun but at times frustrating because they prevent you from winning business, not for lack of creative chops but maybe because you don't have the manpower to facilitate large clients. I'm proud of the work we did, but a lot of those issues go away when you have an infrastructure that's been tried and tested."

On Mr. Butler's part, "I'm personally looking forward to working with Keith and Tom," he said. "I'll take a couple clients on myself, but I'll also spend a lot more time focusing on BSSP, which I haven't had time to do for a long time."

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