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R&D Opens in Dallas

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Former Richards Group heavyweights Doug Rucker and Jan Deatherage have launched a new venture, R&D Thinktank.

Rucker is best known as the leader of the creative team that developed Chik-fil-A's breakthrough "Eat mor chikin" campaign. As creative group head, Rucker helped Richards win a number of major accounts during his 14-year career at the agency, including The Home Depot and Fruit of the Loom.

Deatherage served for 15 years as one of 11 top account principals at the Dallas agency before leaving in 2000 to obtain an MBA. Her former accounts included Freightliner Corp., TXU, Cole-Haan and The Container Store.

The pair this month began formally operating as R&D Thinktank, although they have been quietly collaborating since last summer.

Initial clients include The Gremlin Taming Institute, SMU's Cox School of Business and Mick's Bar.

The Dallas-based firm is positioned as a nontraditional brand communications company that will place experts from a variety of fields into client brainstorming sessions.

"We'd like to pull in people who are going to be relevant but different than what might be expected," Deatherage said.

Similar to a number of virtual agencies that have emerged recently, Deatherage said R&D will rely on strategic relationships with public relations, media and other specialty firms rather than build capabilities in-house.

"We're not trying to build a big agency structure, because frankly that model doesn't seem to be the most appropriate one for these times," she said.