Eastport Holdings Acquires Indie Shop BFG Communications

By Patrick Coffee Comment

Memphis, Tennessee-based holding company Eastport Holdings has acquired indie creative agency BFG Communications for an undisclosed sum after several months of negotiations.

The agency, which is based in Hilton Head, South Carolina with offices in Atlanta and New York City, is the latest property to be purchased by Eastport. That company defines itself as “a network of agencies and media businesses,” and it most recently bought Pittsburgh’s MARC USA last November, also for an undisclosed sum.

BFG (Beverage Food Group) president and CEO Kevin Meany, who founded the agency in 1995 after taking a break from his Ph.D studies, tells us that Eastport is not quite as hands-on as other holding companies. From the release:

“Unlike the massive advertising holding companies, or Ad Cartels, who answer to Wall Street rather than their clients, Eastport is a privately-held company with a unique business model. Its approach is to acquire successful and growing agencies and let them continue to operate independently. Decision-making and control remain at the agency level, so each agency can continue doing what made it a success.”

BFG’s client list currently includes Coca-Cola, Mello Yello and the X Factor, among others. The shop was formerly marketing agency of record for Camel/R.J. Reynolds before that business went to Havas, which subsequently launched a separate unit with its own Chicago office to service the client.

“[The acquisition] sets the stage for our next generation of leaders,” Meany said of a deal that became official last Thursday. Eastport Holdings has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Before the deal went through, BFG had already begun collaborating with some of Eastport’s other roster shops, which include Asher Agency, SBC Advertising, digital operation Yellow7 and Miami-based Hispanic agency MARCA.

Eastport’s properties also include Chicago’s Ten35, which rose from would-be multicultural holding company Commonground/MGS. That operation shuttered last December over a financial dispute and currently faces a class action lawsuit filed the following week by the managing director of its Miami operation on behalf of 100 employees, who allege that the agency’s rapid shutdown violated the WARN act by failing to give at least 60 days notice when terminating a significant number of staffers. Agency principal Amhad Islam spoke to Lewis Lazare before the suit was filed but did not clarify what had led his operation to shut down.

It’s not clear exactly when Eastport acquired Ten35, but the company filed to trademark the agency’s name last month. Ten35 currently serves as MillerCoors’ multicultural agency of record and has for some time.

Meany says that the Eastport deal will not lead to any staffing or account changes at BFG for the foreseeable future and that the agency’s three offices will continue to operate as they had before.

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