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WongDoody Expands Into Dallas via Partnership

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Nine years after opening in Seattle and four years after establishing a Los Angeles outpost, WongDoody is planting its flag in Texas.

The $75 million agency has struck a strategic alliance with Gilliatt/Paris, a 6-year-old creative-only shop in Dallas that had less than $2 million in billings last year.

"It's been our intent to open a third office for some time now," said WongDoody president Pat Doody. "Then, out of the blue, we heard from Gilliatt/Paris, who said they were interested in creating a partnership arrangement."

Tracy Wong, agency chairman and creative director, said the partnership gives WongDoody a foot in the door in the client-rich region. "We felt we needed to align ourselves with someone who knew the market and philosophically had the same point of view," he said.

For Gilliatt/Paris, the arrangement brings additional capabilities such as public relations, account planning, in-house production and media buying. "When we received medium[-sized clients'] RFPs, it became obvious we were a smaller group doing big work and we couldn't get past that hurdle," said co-founder Doug Gilliatt. "Our mind-set is to grow the agency."

The shop, now called WongDoody Dallas, is positioning itself as "a good creative shop that can provide the services a big agency can without the bureaucracy," Wong said.

No money was exchanged in creating the partnership, he said.

The goal is to make the office as self-sufficient as possible, said Chuck Paris, who shares managing partner duties with Gilliatt. Still, Wong and other West Coast-based staffers will help pitch business. Wong will also oversee all creative work. Dallas may also work on projects from other WongDoody offices, Wong said.

WongDoody works for clients such as T-Mobile, Alaska Airlines and Clif Bar. Gilliatt/Paris has subsisted largely on projects from clients such as Blockbuster and GTE/Verizon.

The Dallas partners approached Wong, whom they had never met, earlier this year. "We decided to move forward into more of a traditional agency model," Paris said, "and we knew we wanted to align ourselves with someone outside the market to bring in something fresh."