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Hensley Segal Rentschler gave staffers T-shirts reading [email protected] after its annual retreat last year.

And that strikes just the right tone for Hensley.

The small but quickly expanding suburban Cincinnati ad agency is carving a place in the forefront of the new-media revolution and recently was named Agency of the Year by Advertising Age's Business Marketing.

Hensley, whose Internet address is http://www.pol.com/hsr.html, hawks its services with CD-ROMs. It runs ads promoting its services in magazines like Forbes ASAP. It sponsors an annual conference to espouse its vision of marketing's future.

Hensley also has dispensed with traditional job titles and gives it workers labels such as senior digital art developer/interactive multimedia specialist.

Richard A Segal Jr., the managing director-strategy consultant, and Michael W. Hensley, 39, one of two creative directors, met in 1980 when both worked at Alpha Technical Services in Cincinnati, where they started a small marketing unit. But the business ran into trouble and the owner offered to sell the unit to the men.

"We were so young and naive that we didn't realize we were primarily being offered the chance to buy ourselves," said Mr. Segal, 38.

But they stuck it out and added another partner, Thomas Rentschler, 38, a one-time Alpha client and grade-school friend of Mr. Segal, in 1991 and changed the agency's name to its current moniker.

In the past year, the Springdale, Ohio, shop snagged six Fortune 500 companies as clients. The best it ever had before was just one.

In January, Hensley captured its largest single piece of business ever. GE Aircraft Engines, Cincinnati, turned from Madison Avenue to name Hensley its agency of record. Largely as a result, Hensley expects billings this year to jump 41% to $12 million on top of a 40% gain in 1994 and 35% in 1993.

While new media may consume much of the agency's thinking, it represents less than a quarter of its business. About 40% of its work is in media buying, 25% is in direct marketing and new media, 25% in collateral marketing and about 5% each in trade shows and public relations.

Mr. Mullich is associate editor of Business Marketing.

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