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Erwin Penland Enters New York Market

S.C. shop's expansion aided by sibling Hill, Holliday
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Call it New York on a budget. South Carolina shop Erwin Penland is entering the world's largest advertising market, but rather than swallow the high rental costs associated with the Big Apple, the agency will share space with Interpublic Group sibling Hill, Holliday.

In addition, the two shops will share back-office services, such as accounting. This nexus stops short of a merger, however, given that each agency will maintain its core staff and leaders. They'll also keep their brand names. That should make it interesting for receptionists.

Leading the expansion is Erwin Penland co-founder and president Joe Erwin, who'll now oversee both the Greenville, S.C., and New York offices. Likewise, account leader Allen Bosworth, chief marketing officer Joe Saracino and strategic planning chief Roger Beasley will work across both locales, though they'll still be based in Greenville. (Bosworth and Beasley are taking new titles: chief operating officer and chief innovation officer, respectively.)

Creative leadership will continue to be split, with executive creative director Andy Mendelsohn running Greenville and ecd Lisa Diller steering New York.

A Hill, Holliday executive also is switching teams. Charlene Pletz, an evp and managing director at Hill, Holliday New York, is now chief implementation officer at Erwin Penland New York.

Boston-based Hill, Holliday entered New York in 1983. Its New York clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Majesco Entertainment, and Verizon, for which it handles retail marketing business. Verizon also is a top account at Erwin Penland. In fact, that's what drove Hill, Holliday's move to acquire Erwin Penland in 2004

At the time, Hill, Holliday handled Verizon's retail marketing in the Northeast and Erwin Penland had the same assignment in the Southeast. Three years later, Verizon consolidated its four regional assignments into a single national account that Hill, Holliday and Erwin Penland won. The account chief on the shared business is Bosworth. So, he already has been splitting his time between South Carolina and New York for years.

For Erwin, New York represents access to more resources and an "opportunity to work on more leading national brands." It's a brutally competitive market, though, with a mixture of global giants, regional players and startups. Well, at least, he won't have to worry about overhead costs.