Allen & Gerritsen Duo Bid Farewell

BOSTON Mick O’Brien and Doug Chapman, who supervised Allen & Gerritsen’s creative department for a half-dozen years, are splitting with the Watertown, Mass., shop, which ranks as New England’s largest independent ad agency.

O’Brien on Monday joined relationship marketing company Digitas, Boston, as svp, group CD. Chapman at month’s end will move to Interpublic Group’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, also Boston, as vp, associate CD, working on flagship account FleetBoston Financial.

The pair had most recently been senior vice presidents and group creative directors at A&G; each had been with the agency for about 10 years.

Both executives, as well as A&G senior management, sought to distance the defections from the agency’s acquisition in June of competitor GSO/Davis. Gary Greenberg and Peter Seronick, principals of GSO/Davis, were made executive vice presidents of the combined agency following the purchase, supplanting O’Brien and Chapman atop A&G’s creative hierarchy. O’Brien and Chapman had previously led the department since 1997.

The GSO/Davis deal “really wasn’t a factor” in his decision to leave, said O’Brien, a copywriter, who called the merger “a great move for the agency and a great fusion” of accounts and personnel. O’Brien said he was approached late last year by Digitas evp, ecd Steve Lynch, who he has known professionally for some time, about joining that agency. Given the chance to work on large national (and in some cases, international) accounts at Digitas, O’Brien felt the chance was too good to pass up. “They’re doing some of the most exciting stuff in the city,” he said about Digitas, where his specific account duties have yet to be determined.

“My decision to go to Hill, Holliday is purely selfish,” said Chapman, an art director who frequently partnered with O’Brien at A&G. “It’s an opportunity for me to take advantage of my experience over the last 10 years.”

“It’s completely predictable” for some personnel shakeout to occur following such a merger, said industry consultant Chris Colbert, a former president of defunct Boston agency Holland Mark, which ranked as the region’s largest indie following its 1999 purchase of crosstown rival Ingalls. “When somebody who used to run the show loses that position, it’s a difficult transition,” he said. “That’s just human nature.”

“We wish them the very best and really appreciate all their contributions. They will always be a part of A&G,” said agency president Andrew Graff of O’Brien and Chapman’s decision to leave.

Chapman added that he will miss working with O’Brien, with whom he oversaw campaigns for virtually all A&G clients. The pair became particularly adept, working as a team and while overseeing others, at fashioning memorable ads for makers of industrial or scientific products not known for their marketing creativity. For example, a 2000 A&G print campaign for Genzyme Surgical Products presented some startling and provocative imagery, such as delicate flower petals and the skins of fruits held together by sutures.

O’Brien and Chapman had been partners in A&G prior to the purchase of GSO/Davis; neither they nor Graff would discuss the status of their buyout. Greenberg and Seronick did not respond by press time.

A&G recently lost the $3-5 million Shaw’s Supermarkets business, which came over from GSO/Davis, in a review to Connelly Partners/CGN of Boston. The shop’s big post-merger score was Ikon Business Solutions, worth as much as $20 million, last October. Work for Ikon will debut in April, Graff said. Overall, A&G claims an estimated $160 million in billings and $20-25 million in annual revenue.