Hillary Clinton Campaign Team Members Launch Boston Ad Agency

Gray & Partners Will Focus on Politics, Health Care, Education, Energy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Marketing budgets may be shrinking, but a new agency in Boston is banking on its political savvy, and a focus on some of the economic bright spots, such as health care, energy and education, to provide the platform for a successful launch at the most unlikely of times.

Gray & Partners, claiming to be a strategic communications and full-service ad agency, opened its doors earlier this week. President Reagan Gray and her partners, Karen Albreksten and Jon Patsavos, met while working on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Their backgrounds may be a little unconventional -- Ms. Gray has been in advertising for 20 years, with a background in health; Mr. Patsavos is a 10-year political fundraiser; and Ms. Albreksten is a former restaurateur -- but they said their agency will deliver "big-agency talent, small-agency overhead."

Prior to establishing the Boston agency, the three partners worked independently with clients such as Acura, Honda, UCLA and PFF Bank & Trust. So far, the new agency's clients have been largely in the political arena -- working with newly elected Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on her campaign as well as with Rory Reid, son of Senate majority leader Harry Reid. The younger Mr. Reid is running for governor in Nevada. Another client is Toshiba Business Solutions (New England).

"We're targeting a lot of local companies," said Mr. Pasavos, who is also the firm's director of business development. "But we are a national, full-service ad agency."

Right now that's a pretty bold claim, given that Gray & Partners is an agency of three people. But the new shop has a working relationship with Southern California-based JohnsonGray Advertising, where Ms. Gray is still a partner. The new shop will tap the media buying and creative team at JohnsonGray, hoping that will enable it to keep overhead low while it's going through its initial growing pains.

"There's a lot of upside here," he added. "We're a new ad agency, but we have a huge Rolodex, a huge network, we have clients already."

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