Veterans of Hill Holliday, DDB and AT&T Launch New Agency ‘Madison Avenue Social’

By Patrick Coffee 

Today marks a new week with a new ad agency. And like so many businesses in the space, this one comes with an angle: mobile-first social media with a B2B slant.

Madison Avenue Social almost solely handles on the kind of work that comes with share and like buttons. According to the release, its three principals share a “belief that Social Media should ignite a brand conversation that engages, educates and inspires people to take action.”

Sounds like conventional wisdom, though the trio has arguably lived it.


They are president Deirdre Catucci (former marketing director at AT&T), chief media officer Tim McHale (who held the same title at Tribal DDB) and executive creative director Mike Gentile (veteran of MRM//McCann and Hill Holiday).

Before joining together to launch Madison Avenue Social, they worked on Paran Johar’s popular Mobile Media Summit events until he sold his company to European trade show group Comexposium Group in 2015. The release tells us that the three decided to start an agency after “quietly taking on social media responsibilities for several world class brands, including Cross Pens and Sheaffer Pen Co.,” with the latter serving its more than 100,000 Facebook fans.

The agency’s now-trademarked tagline is “We Evoke Emotion,” which Catucci said was “based on the belief—backed up by outstanding metrics—that people are only inspired to take action when something touches them emotionally.”

She also argued that her experience with both AT&T and Mobile Media Summit convinced her that phones now rule all media, particularly social. “We decided to formalize our social media offering, applicable for both B2B and B2C, primarily because it represents what clients need today.  Few social agencies really understand their similarities or differences, for that matter; like the lead-gen capability for B2B firms and the sales attribution capability for B2C companies of all kinds, tech or otherwise. If you don’t know mobile, you aren’t really maximizing social.”

It’s a pretty specific positioning.

And on that front, the three also announced a partnership with Mediasmith, an independent San Francisco media shop that will help them provide a fuller set of services to clients.

Gentile also has an ad tech background; before helping to launch this new agency, he was creative director at “relationship marketing solutions” software company Selligent.

“One thing we’re excited about is being able to tell brand stories in a modern way—the same way consumers, influencers and marketers all begin and end their days, by engaging with friends, family and clients on social,” Gentile said. “My experience in mobile, as well as email, DR and digital has certainly helped me understand how creative storytelling is unique on social vis-à-vis other media.”

Good thing other agencies have no idea how social media works.