Larry Woodard, a 25-year ad agency veteran and for the last decade CEO of Publicis Groupe's Vigilante Advertising, has formed his own shop: Graham Stanley Advertising.
The new venture in New York is named for his father. In a strongly worded statement, Woodward (pictured) explained his rationale for going solo:
"My father, Graham Stanley Woodard, who passed away in 2008, was born into a sharecropping family in the 1930s. They grew tobacco and cotton. My grandfather, Jesse Woodard, told me the story of working for an entire year, going to settle up at the end of the season and getting just $20 from the landowner. ... I came to realize that some 60 years after my grandfather stopped sharecropping, I was working the land for someone else. I spent the past 10 years building an advertising agency for a holding company. Now I've fixed that."
In the statement, Woodard said he does not have a non-compete agreement with Publicis and can pursue former clients. Vigilante is known for efforts supporting Heineken, Sprint, GM, Western Union and the USTA, among others, and Woodard is credited with implementing Oprah's ballyhooed 2004 car giveaway promotion.
At launch, the client roster includes Screen Gems, Cox Communications and Heart and Soul Magazine.
Woodard said the shop would offer a mix of traditional and digital services in order to "pursue blue-chip clients and take this agency to a size and significance that simply can't be achieved by a captive entrepreneurial agency within a network."
Other key players at the new agency include executive producer/creative coordinator Adrian Lichter; account director Louis Cortes; and chief of staff Derrick Garrett. The shop employs 10 staffers.
Vigilante employs about 50 staffers. Woodard's successor at the shop has not been named. Publicis reps could not immediately be reached for comment.