Outsider Seeks Twin Cities Toehold

Minneapolis, with its strong, entrenched advertising culture, is not a likely target for agency expansion. But that’s what business-to-business shop NKH&W is doing with its fourth outpost, hoping longtime Colle + McVoy executive Jim Bergeson will be its key to the city.

Pete Kovac, CEO of the Kansas City, Mo.-based independent, said he wants to lure the region’s medical, technology and agricultural marketers. “We believe we need to grow our base, and there are a lot of headquarters up there,” said Kovac, whose shop claims $100 million in billings. “Clients don’t want to get on airplanes anymore. We need to bring the mountain to Mohammad.”

Longtime Twin Cities ad consultant Jan Apple said she could not cite another recent example of an outside agency establishing a Minneapolis office. “If you think about the agencies that have been most successful in this city, they are local,” Apple said. “It may be a testament to how strong the local agencies are.”

To help him navigate the waters, Kovac enlisted Bergeson, who has had a 25-year advertising career in the city. “I know a lot of people, and a lot of people know me,” said Bergeson, who oversees two account executives as the office’s president.

Bergeson served as president and then CEO of MDC Partners’ C+M, leaving in 2001 to become a consultant for MDC. Most recently, he was on a self-described “sabbatical.”

NKH&W has had modest success with its offshoots in Tulsa, Okla., and Little Rock, Ark., both established in 2002. The agency has one Minneapolis-based client, 3M Healthcare, but that account will continue to be handled out of Kansas City.