Both sides termed the parting "amicable." Jerry Gibbons, a founding partner in A-Team Advertising Advisors, said his agency will no longer offer search. He said the search-review practice of Mr. Wohlwerth and Ms. Billock raised the issue of "pay for play," an ethical dilemma as to whether agencies getting advice from a consultancy should then be given a crack at reviews marketers bring to the firm.
Mr. Gibbons said the partnership became "problematic with us as we work with agencies," and could lead to "a perception of a conflict of interest." He said A-Team wants "to get paid for our services to agencies," not for placement of agencies in marketers' reviews and will no longer handle agency searches.
Formelry of SRI, Roth
Mr. Wohlwerth, formerly of Select Resources International, said he and Ms. Billock, formerly at Roth Associates, share a primary interest in agency-review searches, and have handled eight reviews with billings up to $300 million, including Clearwire, Olympus and Washington Mutual for store design.
Mr. Wohlwerth said the A-Team partnership proved to lack "synergy." He said his yet-to-be-named consultancy will have offices on both coasts; Ms. Billock will remain in New York and he will stay in Southern California.
Marketers "are ready for a new model of search," said Mr. Wohlwerth, adding that most search consultants in the business today have a pre-defined process which is apply to all searches. Marketers have differing needs and the search process should be custom built for individual challenges, he said.
While Mr. Wohlwerth said he and the principals at A-Team Advertising Advisors will work on some projects going forward, he never liked the name of the group. "I never want to be compared to Mr. T again," he said.