Mendelsohn/Zien’s Founder Departs

LOS ANGELES Jordin Mendelsohn, Mendelsohn/Zien’s founder and executive creative director, has abruptly left the Los Angeles ad agency after the completion of its transfer of ownership to Japanese agency Hakuhodo earlier this week. M/Z president and CEO Richard Zien will continue to lead the 25-year-old agency, which is best known for its Carl’s Jr. TV work.

Zien described the parting as “a good run for both sides,” adding that it’s “always an interesting time when there’s a change in terms of the overall structure” of a group operation. Mendelsohn sounded more melancholy — as if he fears his boutique brand could be going big business. 

“Hakuhodo has been a great partner to us. They have 60-plus offices and their agency is worldwide so they have tremendous resources,” Zien said of the company, which became a minority partner when it purchased 49.9 percent of M/Z in 2003 and now owns 100 percent of the agency. “The objective will be to do the things necessary to grow it for the next 25 years.”

“I started the company 30 years ago and I loved the business, I still love it,” Mendelsohn said of the agency, which officially opened in 1984. “I just believe that when you get corporate… It was my baby and I had to leave, that’s all. It’s just business.”

M/Z is Hakuhodo’s flagship agency in North America with clients Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, Qantas Airways, ABC7 TV and Farmer John (a division of Hormel Foods). There are no plans to change the agency’s name or operating structure.

M/Z is searching outside the agency for a replacement for Mendelsohn. Zien said the ecd was not currently very active on the Carl’s Jr. account, so the shift shouldn’t affect its major client too much. The QSR chain’s most prominent ads star sexy celebs such as Paris Hilton, Padma Lakshmi and Audrina Patridge hawking its behemoth burgers.

Mendelsohn has no immediate plans to start another agency, but sounds like he already has the itch. “Work is my passion,” he said, speaking about his role as a creative in terms of not only advertising, but also ideation, product development and marketing. “I need to go do that somewhere else.”