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Converse Splits With Butler

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SAN FRANCISCO Converse, a division of Nike, has split with independent Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, the agency that helped the brand become one of the first major marketers to use consumer-generated content in ads.

"We have mutually agreed to part ways with Converse. We are proud of the business results, awards and the national prominence that we have achieved for the brand," said Greg Stern, CEO at Butler, Shine in Sausalito, Calif.

He referred questions to Converse CMO Dave Maddocks, who did not return calls. Converse spent about $20 million on advertising in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The client also uses Yard, a design-driven creative agency in New York, for its fashion apparel ads. In March, the agency unveiled its second installment in the "Get chucked" magazine advertising campaign supporting the spring and summer men and women's ready-to-wear collections.

Yard's project-based relationship with Converse has grown in the past year, said shop president Stephen Niedzwiecki. The estimated budget for the current campaign is $8 million, more than double last year's expenditure through the agency, per sources. Yard has not been approached to do any of the Converse brand advertising previously handled by Butler, Shine, Niedzwiecki said.

According to sources, Butler, Shine and the client have been trying to negotiate a new contract for about three months and decided to call it quits this week.

It is unclear if the client intends to conduct a review for the business. A source said the company is considering using agencies on a project basis.

Butler, Shine's Converse work, "Brand Democracy," which used films created by consumers in a series of TV and Web ads, won a 2005 silver Effie and 2005 silver Pencil at the One Show. In the last two years the shop created a series of TV spots with NBA star Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, including introspective ads directed by Spike Lee. The agency won the account in 2003.

Zaaz, a Seattle-based digital company that specializes in analytics-driven online development work, handles Converse's Web site. Wunderman acquired Zaaz last July. Zaaz executives, who said their relationship with Converse has not changed, referred calls to Converse.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with comments from Yard.