Jon Bond, the co-founder of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, is the new chief executive at Big Fuel Communications, a New York–based social media marketing and branded content agency.
Bond (pictured), who left his MDC Partners namesake shop in early 2010, also became an equity partner in Big Fuel, but did not disclose the size of his stake in the agency.
Big Fuel was founded in 2004 by Avi Savar, a former TV producer with credits at USA Networks, Fox, Columbia Tri-Star, Showtime, Good Morning America and VH1, where he oversaw production of “The Fabulous Life of…[.]” Savar, Big Fuel’s CEO and founding partner, will now focus on content development. Managing partner Mike McGraw shifts from agency operations to content distribution and syndication.
Bond declined to disclose revenue at the private shop, which works for clients such as McDonald's, Fisher Price, Gore-Tex, Budweiser, Colgate-Palmolive and General Motors, where it was appointed the automaker’s social media agency of record for brands like Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. He said the agency’s staff would number 200 this spring, up from 25 two years ago.
“Big Fuel is a kind of octopus with tentacles reaching throughout the social ecosystem. It will be a new full-service model for insights into a lot of social media applications, not just Facebook and Twitter,” Bond said. “Some of the services we already own, some we’ll acquire.”
Since leaving KBS+P, Bond has been looking for investments in emerging marketing communications and has taken stakes in crowd-sourcing firm Victors & Spoils; iKlout, a firm that identifies and tracks "influencers" for brands, categories and issues; Crimson Hexagon, which researches insights from social media conversations in real time; and Data Xu, a next-generation DSP (digital signal processing) technology that makes fast online media buying decisions. Bond said he met Big Fuel’s principals in September.
With characteristic brashness, Bond said he envisions Big Fuel as the basis of a new “global agency network” focused on social media. Big Fuel, which is opening its second location in Detroit, has retained New York investment bank Jordan, Edmiston Group to raise capital to enter new markets and help drive that growth.
“Every brand is now its own media company, and marketers need someone to build and manage their media,” Bond said. “Big Fuel is like merging [MDC agency] Crispin [Porter + Bogusky] with Viacom.”
For instance, in 2009, Big Fuel developed a creative platform emphasizing self-confidence for the launch of Colgate Wisp, a mini-disposable toothbrush. Targeting young, urban consumers, the “Be More Kissable” pitch used elements like online video, a Facebook application and "Be the Face of Wisp" photo contest.
“As social media has evolved, it’s become the perfect complement to branded content,” said Big Fuel founder Savar. “We’ve evolved from a company that has created those branded content assets into a full-service social media company with distribution channels for it.”