Neil Powell to Go It Alone Again

Parts With MDC After Losing Rights to His Agency's Name

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- There's only one way to describe the first year of Neil Powell's new agency: a gigantic mess.
Neil Powell
Neil Powell

We Are Gigantic, born last April out of ashes of defunct agency Margeotes Fertitta Powell, ran into trouble almost immediately when it was sued for trademark infringement by another New York-based agency. The lawsuit, which was quietly settled recently, will cost Mr. Powell's shop its name. And this week the agency and its parent, MDC Partners, revealed their decision to split, leaving Mr. Powell with plans to create an independent start-up with We Are Gigantic's client roster.

'Mutual decision'
MDC and We Are Gigantic issued a brief statement citing a "mutual decision to part ways," without giving explanation as to why. While neither MDC CEO Miles Nadal nor Mr. Powell would elucidate, executives familiar with the matter said the legal trouble didn't cause the split, though it certainly didn't help.

MDC was brought into the lawsuit because Mr. Powell had been a no-show at meetings with a magistrate judge, said Bernard Urban, the plaintiff and the founder and president of Gigantic Marketing. "It became clear that everything [We Are Gigantic] is doing, MDC backs them ... everything they're doing is sanctioned by them," Mr. Urban had said. "Now that MDC has been added [to the lawsuit] maybe Miles Nadal will see the obvious need to change the name."

In a joint statement, MDC and We Are Gigantic said: "MDC Partners and We Are Gigantic have made a mutual decision to part ways. As an independent agency, We Are Gigantic will retain its current client roster and will continue to operate with Neil Powell and Josh Rogers as partners."
Mr. Powell will keep his clients at his new agency, but not the name.
Mr. Powell will keep his clients at his new agency, but not the name.

Toronto-based MDC -- the parent company of some 40 agencies including Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners -- had 100% ownership of We Are Gigantic. It also provided the backing for the now-defunct MFP, where Mr. Powell was a partner.

Gigantic Marketing
Gigantic Marketing was seeking to bar use of the MDC agency's name or the term "gigantic" on the grounds that the latter's name infringed on its trademark. Terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, but, according to court papers, both parties have agreed to bear their own attorney's fees and costs. Mr. Urban declined to comment on the settlement, citing a 30-day confidential clause. But executives familiar with the matter say the outcome of the settlement ensures that Mr. Powell will not be permitted to use the We Are Gigantic name going forward.

Despite a string of now-defunct shops (before the collapse of MFP, Mr. Powell served as creative director and managing partner of Fallon, New York, which shuttered in 2005), Mr. Powell is prepping to launch another start-up. While he didn't provide details, Mr. Powell said he and We Are Gigantic partner and concept director Josh Rogers will be partners in a yet-to-be-named New York-based independent agency

The outfit will focus on new media and media innovation and will open as soon as next month, with current We Are Gigantic clients on its roster (those include Sundance Film Festival and MSG Network), Mr. Powell said.
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