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Small Startups With Big Plans

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Two pairs of twenty-somethings have launched advertising operations with a familiarbusiness plan: offer big-agencyquality at small-shop prices.

The principals of both ventures are also optimistic about opening their Texas shops during a soft advertising market. "If you start now, it can only get better," said Michael Aars, art director of Aars & Wells in Dallas. "If you start in tough economic times, there's no artificial high."

Aars has worked for Fellers and Red Chair Marketing & Advertising in Lubbock, Texas, and spent time at The Richards Group inDallas as an intern and freelancer. His partner, Alex Wells, was asan account executive for Texas Monthly magazine in Houston.

The second pair, Adam Butler and his brother Marty, are bothformer creative staffers at GSD&M, where they worked as partners from 1997 until last year. Their account experience at that Austin, Texas, agency includes Kinko's, Land Rover and Southwest Airlines.

Adam Butler, a copywriter, left GSD&M recently to establish the agency, The Butler Brothers. Marty Butler returns to Austin fromPortland, Ore., after a brief freelance stint.

"People have been telling us, 'You need to do your own thing,' but we didn't think we wanted to initially because we didn't have enough experience," Marty Butler said. "But once we started checking the boxes [of account categories they have worked on], we thought maybe it's true that we're good at this."

The Butlers, who are pursuing local advertising clients, are currently working on projects for Whole Foods Market, Barton Creek Resort and area musicians. The siblings are open to freelancing for other Texas agencies as well. "Sometimes we'll need to do that to stay afloat," Adam Butler said.

Aars & Wells is also handling project assignments. The agency's client roster includes Southern Methodist University, Mercedes Benz of Lubbock and TrizecHahn Office Properties.

Both teams said they can provide account services, not only creative capabilities. "We're not just a couple of gun-toting creatives who want to do the most award-winning work," Adam Butler said. "We want to do work that solves people's business problems."

Aars said, "We try to go in and help our clients' brand image at every level of contact."