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Underground Trio Leaves Eisner for Exit 10

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ATLANTA Three of the four partners in Underground, a guerilla marketing firm acquired by Eisner Communications in 2001, have left the agency and formed Exit 10 Advertising.

David White, 35, former managing director of account services at Underground, is president of the new independent Baltimore shop. Jonathan Helfman, 34, is creative director of Exit 10. Previously, Helfman was associate creative director at Underground. Scott Sugiuchi, 39, former design director at Underground, takes the same title at Exit 10.

Eric Hartsock, founder of Underground and the fourth partner, remains at Eisner as a creative director.

The three partners took several accounts with them, including CSX, Webb Mason and American Portfolios. Sources said total billings on the accounts are about $1 million. White said he expects other clients to leave Eisner for Exit 10.

The departures were prompted by a reorganization at Eisner, an independent Baltimore agency that has eliminated separate departments, White said. Jeremy Clarke, who took over as president and chief executive of the shop in December from Steve Eisner, who retained the chairmanship, led the departmental integration.

Eisner described the parting as cordial. "With the reorganization, some of those guys saw an opportunity to do something different," said Abe Novick, a spokesman for Eisner. "They are entrepreneurial guys and we understand that."

White said he and his partners are preparing office space in Baltimore that they expect to occupy by June. He also plans to increase the new shop's staff to 10 people by then, he said. Currently, Exit 10 is in temporary quarters in Towson, Md., a northern suburb of Baltimore.

Eisner bought Underground in 2001, two years after it opened in Baltimore.