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Cliff Freeman to Shutter Shop?

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The mystery surrounding the ongoing status of Cliff Freeman and Partners deepened as sources said CFP staffers in New York have been packing up boxes and selling equipment and chief financial officer Gail Hoffman Frusciante is leaving the shop today. She did not return calls.

The 22-year-old agency's namesake founder did not respond to Adweek inquiries.
 
Sources also said Baskin-Robbins -- where execs could not be reached for comment -- is the last remaining account, and that there are five employees left at an operation that had a peak headcount of nearly 60 in recent years. This year, CFP pitched accounts like Zappos and 1-800-Got-Junk? using creative freelancers, per sources.
 
Most recently, CFP's client roster included marketers like Barnes & Noble, Valley National Bank, Michelin Guides and Saudi Arabian Airlines.
 
It's been a turbulent year for CFP. In April, chief executive Clayton Ruebensaal III quit after five months on the job. Last November, the agency parted ways with Jeff McClelland, its first CEO, who had joined in 2005.
 
In February, Canadian holding company MDC Partners sold back its 20 percent stake in CFP. MDC CEO Miles Nadal has said the company invested $800,000, describing the agency as being in a "turnaround phase." He called the buyback a "mutual conclusion," as MDC had no wish to make further investments in the shop.
 
CFP had also once been a unit of Saatchi & Saatchi, but in 1999 Cliff Freeman and other top managers bought the agency back from the company that was then part of Cordiant PLC.
 
The closing of CFP would mark the end of an era. While not shocking -- the agency has lost some of its largest accounts such as Snapple and Quiznos in recent years -- the move would mark the continued passage of iconic advertising made famous by 30-second commercials.
 
Among Cliff Freeman's best-known campaigns were 'Where's the beef?' for Wendy's and 'Pizza! Pizza!' for Little Caesars.

An agency Web site domain name expired on Oct. 17 and has yet to be renewed. CFP's "CliffBot" venue remains active.