Relationship Between Fusion and Bogusky's Fearless Evolves

Fusion Was to Provide Access to Millennial Audiences

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The Fearless website.
The Fearless website. Credit: Courtesy Fearless Unlimited

The "social impact agency" Fearless was opened last March by three industry heavyweights: Alex Bogusky and fellow Crispin Porter & Bogusky veterans Dagny Scott and Leslie Freeman. If those names weren't enough to gin up interest in Fearless' services, the agency's partnership with the multimedia company Fusion was highlighted in early materials as a key differentiator.

Mr. Bogusky, in an interview at the time, said that Fearless' "built-in distribution within the Fusion platforms" would be one of the three things that make it unique. "By embedding ourselves into the media platform we'll be able to really deliver for the small and midsize advertiser and tell their stories in unique ways across a broad range of touch points," he said.

"That structure of the agency as the gateway into the media is really important," Mr. Bogusky said elsewhere.

A Fusion release about Fearless mentioned the "added value of a built-in millennial audience through Fusion's television, social and digital platforms."

As part of the deal, Fusion, a TV-and-digital joint venture between Disney and Univision, opened up an office in Boulder, Co., where Fearless is based.

But, a year out, the relationship between Fearless and Fusion has changed -- the two now work together only on "an ad hoc basis," though they maintain "a working relationship," a Fusion spokesman said.

One Fusion employee works out of the Boulder office, according to a person familiar with the situation.

"We currently have some ongoing projects and will continue working together in the future as the right opportunities present themselves," the spokesman said. "Leslie, Dagny, and Alex are incredibly talented, creative people and strategic thinkers and we are glad to count them among our friends and colleagues."

Ms. Freeman, in an email to Ad Age, said that Fearless is focused right now "on the strategy and creative side," which could account for Fusion's reduced role.

"Our plan is to work with Fusion when we have campaigns that involve more content-driven elements," she said. One ongoing Fusion-Fearless client is the California Endowment, a private health foundation. (The campaign is based around youth empowerment, Ms. Dagny said last year.)

Ms. Freeman described Fearless' relationship with Fusion as "a great, evolving experience," and had nothing but kind words for the company.

"It's been nice to work with a media company that really understands the social impact space," she said.

Ms. Freeman said that Fearless work for clients including Annie's, the Al Gore-founded Climate Reality Project, and Just Label It, a project of an organic food advocacy group, has been "resonating well."

Fusion began in the fall of 2013, but the company's digital operation essentially re-launched (or, formally debuted) in February 2015. Fusion's TV channel is still its biggest moneymaker, thanks to the cable carriage fees it receives. In 2015, the company brought in $63.5 million in revenue, though it still lost $37.6 million, according to a Politico report.

While Fusion has impressed by hiring several high-profile journalists to work on the digital side, the company's traffic is relatively modest -- though it's grown over the last few months. brought in 8.8 million U.S. multiplatform unique visitors in January, according to ComScore. Fusion's cable TV network is not rated by Nielsen.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Fearless opened in February 2015. It opened in March.

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