BOSTON Independent Allen & Gerritsen in Watertown, Mass., has recast and rebranded its 24-person media arm as New Model Army.
The unit will now operate as a semi-autonomous division of the agency, continuing to serve A&G clients as it competes for business on its own and attempts to develop new services and analytical offerings. One notable standalone client for New Model Army at its inception is Fallon Community Health Plan.
It's an unusual move for a modest-sized regional player (A&G employs 90 staffers all told), but could make sense given the increasing importance of media management and metrics in the advertising landscape.
The model has been employed for several years by larger New England agency Mullen, an IPG holding, which operates its MediaHub as essentially a standalone operation.
A&G connections planning executive Basil Dixon (shown above) -- at one time a Mullen staffer -- will now lead New Model Army as its managing director.
"There's a hole in the market for channel connection strategy that we can fill," said Dixon.
Chris Colbert, a long-time Boston agency exec and leader of Hub shop Holland Mark, said New Model Army "may make sense financially in that it theoretically allows the media unit to work for other agencies. Whether other agencies will [sign up for its services] is another question."
One key downside, per Colbert, is a "potential loss of integrated effort between the creative folk and the media unit, an ongoing challenge for agencies."
Regardless of possible pitfalls, A&G's move in broader sense signals a desire to try something new, and perhaps take a few risks, in order to jump-start momentum in a down economy.