C+M’s Jarvis Puts Pieces In Place For Image Revamp

John Jarvis isn’t the first Colle + McVoy leader to lay out plans to land more consumer accounts. But in his first five months on the job at the Minneapolis agency, he’s got a head start, adding two executives from some of the city’s top shops and a new account with greater creative potential than any in C+M’s agribusiness base.

Jarvis, who took over as president of the MDC Partners agency in March, has installed two top lieutenants in new posts, hiring former Carmichael Lynch associate creative director Mike Fetrow as executive creative director and ex-Kerker partner Christine Fruechte as director of client services.

Last month, C+M, whose agribusiness clients include Cenex and New Holland, won the Minnesota Lottery’s $7 million account, besting two crosstown shops, Omnicom Group’s BBDO and independent The Foley Group, as well as independent Barkley Evergreen & Partners in Kansas City, Mo. In July, C+M was a semifinalist for Subaru’s $165 million account, which would have almost doubled the shop’s billings. (Adweek estimates C+M’s 2003 billings at $200 million.) The shop did not make the cut to finalists.

The Subaru pitch may have taxed the agency’s resources, but Jarvis said winning an account like that is what the shop needs to do to change its b-to-b reputation. “All it takes is one or two consumer accounts, and suddenly the consultants look at you in a different light,” he said.

Before her stint at independent Kerker, Fruechte, 37, was at Interpublic Group’s Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, where she was general manager of its KidCom unit that worked with clients such as General Mills. Her charge is to install “best practices” within the 38-member account- services department, Jarvis said.

Before IPG’s CL, Fetrow, 38, an art director, worked at independent One and All in Minneapolis. Prior to that, he worked on Holiday Inn Express, Ameritech and Nestea Cool, among others, at Fallon Minneapolis.

“I told [the new hires], ‘Here is where the opportunity is—there’s nowhere to go but up,’ ” said Jarvis, to whom the two report. “We need people who can become the next generation of leaders.”

Jarvis, 45, joined the shop in 2000 as chief creative officer, a title he retained when he replaced Chuck Kushell as president. In his three years running the agency, Kushell, now a consultant for MDC, focused on creating practice areas, such as database marketing and public relations, and areas of expertise, such as travel. Revenue increased 15 percent to $31 million from 2001 to 2003, according to Adweek estimates, but the shop strayed from the long-term mission Jarvis—and MDC—had in mind.

“We had the agency set up more similar to a consulting firm,” Jarvis said. “It was hard to rally people around practice disciplines.”

MDC chief strategist Chuck Porter said C+M’s goal during the next few years is to “become a really solid, creatively driven agency.”

“They’ve got a shot,” said Minnetonka, Minn., consultant Jan Apple. “John is a different kind of leader than the past leaders. … They’ve never had a creative in that position before.”