New Partners Take Stakes in The Ad Store | Adweek New Partners Take Stakes in The Ad Store | Adweek
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New Partners Take Stakes in The Ad Store

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The Ad Store, looking to shed its reputation as a shop that helps develop upstart brands only to see them exit for bigger rivals, has bolstered its management ranks with the addition of new CEO Gunnar Wilmot and chief creative officer Kevin Moehlenkamp.

Wilmot is the former chairman of Interpublic Group’s Gotham in New York and a longtime office and account leader at Interpublic’s McCann Erickson before that. Kevin Moehlenkamp is the ex-creative chief at IPG’s Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos in Boston.

Each new leader also has taken an equal stake in the independent shop, which creative Paul Cappelli founded in 1993. Collectively, Wilmot, 56, and Moehlenkamp, 47, now own a significant majority of the agency, with Cappelli, 55, retaining a minority share.

Moehlenkamp takes the reins of the creative department as Cappelli shifts to chairman, with a focus on expanding Ad Store’s international footprint. The agency has 12 offices, but they operate like affiliates with few, if any, shared clients. In his new role, Cappelli will aim to get those offices to network more. He also plans to add offices in Asia and the Middle East.

Among the brands that Ad Store has worked on in its 18 years are JetBlue, GoDaddy, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Zappos. Each client stayed for several years, but eventually left. Getting  clients to stick is among the challenges facing Wilmot and Moehlenkamp. They also hope to attract larger accounts, given their big brand experience in the automotive, beverage, fast-food, insurance and banking sectors.

“We’re looking for ambitious brands large and small,” Wilmot said.

At McCann, where he spent 20 years, Wilmot was a key contact for global clients, such as  General Motors and Coca-Cola. Moehlenkamp’s clients at Hill Holliday, where he spent six years before leaving in December, included Dunkin’ Donuts, Liberty Mutual and Bank of America.

Reflecting on his decision to join Ad Store, Moehlenkamp said that the shop “consistently delivers on a simple promise: It cuts through all the extraneous advertising BS and overhead and gets clients to game-changing ideas faster. All we’re doing is building off this great platform by mixing in more brand creativity, strategy and digital expertise.”

Clients of Ad Store’s New York headquarters include El Al Israel Airlines, Popcorn, Quidsi (Diapers.com, Soap.com), Gettington.com and Dean College. Total revenue on those accounts is estimated at $3 million. Across its 12 offices, Ad Store claims revenue of more than $7 million, so the new partners have their work cut out for them.

To further diversify Ad Store’s offerings, the shop also has forged a non-equity partnership with New York brand consultancy Seesaw. The 19-person shop is run by Randy Herbertson, who will play a key role in Ad Store pitches and client service. For now, however, Seesaw will continue to operate on its own.

Earlier in his career, Herbertson, 46, worked on the client side for the likes of Condé Nast and Allied Domecq.