Last Day for Staff at Modernista Is Friday

Founder Gary Koepke to Finally Shutter Shop, Explore New Opportunities

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After more than a decade as a force in the Boston ad market, indie agency Modernista is now officially closing its doors. The last day for staff will be Friday, and Founder and Executive Creative Director Gary Koepke plans to wind up client business by May 15.

The news comes nearly two months after Modernista was at a crossroads. Mr. Koepke in early March told Ad Age he was weighing either shuttering the office entirely or giving it a go at rebranding the shop and nixing the Modernista name because it carried "baggage."

"After assessing things, I decided to close the doors," Mr. Koepke said. "The history of Modernista will officially end in a couple of weeks. ... I will shut it down and look to the next chapter."

Modernista was founded by Mr. Koepke and Lance Jensen in 2000, and at its peak the boutique shop had about 150 employees, satellite offices in Amsterdam and Detroit, and an impressive roster of clients including General Motors' Cadillac and Hummer, MTV and the Gap. But the agency was hit hard by client pullbacks during the recession as well as the fallout of GM's bankruptcy. It initiated rounds of layoffs and restructuring attempts in 2008, and since then a number of staff began exiting.

Most recently it suffered the loss of co-founder Mr. Jensen, who went to crosstown shop Hill Holliday. As of March, Modernista had about 45 staffers, and counted as clients Sears, 20th Century Fox and snack company Food Should Taste Good. Right now, the shop is down to a skeleton staff of about 10 people.

One of the ideas Mr. Koepke was considering pursuing as part of a possible refresh of the agency was focusing on consulting with companies to help them align their value proposition with what consumers care about, and be more transparent with their marketing. He's still considering exploring that path, but said, "I need time to develop it, and I don't want to just flip right over to something without careful contemplation."

"I'll take a little bit of time this summer and relax a bit," Mr. Koepke said. "I'm looking forward to a new chapter, and it's best for me to get a clean slate going here and start over. Lance and I rocked it -- we made a lot of good albums together -- and I have a lot of fond memories of this place, and I hope others do, too."

Do you have a memory you'd like to share? Post it in the comments below.

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