Walrus Arises From Mad Dogs

NEW YORK Former Mad Dogs & Englishmen creative director Deacon Webster and 10 staffers have absorbed the defunct shop’s last four clients and this week opened under the banner Walrus.

With Grand Marnier, Radar magazine, the 21 Club and Wacoal’s CW-X Conditioning Wear, Walrus has about $7 million in billings, said Webster, now chief creative officer. And though the shop opens with Mad Dogs’ clients, in its Park Avenue office space and with creative personnel lifted almost entirely from its ranks, Webster said that he has learned a few lessons he hopes will help Walrus succeed.

“Mad Dogs style was a raw style . . . our best work at Mad Dogs was very naked,” said Webster. “We’ll have a much stronger design sense [at Walrus].”

Where Mad Dogs concentrated primarily on TV, print and guerilla, the Walrus team has already branched out into point-of-sale and package design for Grand Marnier and created design-heavy direct mail pieces for the 21 Club, Webster said.

Mad Dogs co-founder Robin Hafitz will consult with Walrus on strategy until the agency hires a full-time strategist. The shop will outsource Web work.

And while Grand Marnier is by far the shop’s largest client, spending about $5 million annually per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, Webster said Walrus would work hard not to rely on one account, thus avoiding the Atkins trap at Mad Dogs.

“We want to be evenhanded with all that in terms of pursuing new business,” said Webster. “A lot of it is about doing good work first, so we can get really good work out there for the clients and in front of potential new clients.”

Walrus will soon move to a 4,000-square-foot Union Square office in New York.

The staff is at work on the shop’s Web site, www.walrusnyc.com.