From Bozell to Bouchez Kent: a Shop in the Making

The departures of Brent Bouchez and Megan Kent from Bozell are not entirely unexpected. In fact, this week’s launch of breakaway shop Bouchez Kent + Co. has been in the works for a while, a source said.

Others said that although Bouchez achieved some success at Bozell in New York, he did not feel entirely at home as executive creative director at a shop whose billings are estimated at $850 million. One source even said the parting was mutual.

In any event, this move comes with a twist: Bouchez Kent + Co. has the financial backing of French ad giant Havas, sources said. Thus, Bouchez, Kent and fellow travelers Richard Hsu of Bozell and Jeffrey Wilks of BBDO Worldwide in New York will have the luxury of opening an agency without a single client.

If Bouchez and Kent, executive director of brand planning at Bozell, are the pillars of the new shop, Wilks, a senior account di-rector on Duracell at BBDO, is the connective tissue. He knows Bouchez from their days at the former Ammirati Puris Lintas and Kent from Fallon, where they both worked in the mid-1990s.

Hsu, the design director at Bozell, arrived there early last year to tackle design issues, ranging from art direction in advertising to the backdrop for a new-business pitch. Since the position was created for him, it will not be filled.

In his two years at Bozell, Bouchez helped polish the agency’s reel, which includes work for the likes of Verizon, Bank of America and Datek Online. He also took advantage of Bozell’s move to strengthen ties between its planning and creative departments, particularly after Kent arrived in June 1999.

Kent, who also has worked at TBWA\Chiat\Day, expanded the de-partment at Bozell, bringing aboard, among others, associate director of brand planning Joan Dufresne, an alumnus of Ogilvy & Mather, who will now replace her.

Until Bouchez’s successor is found, group cds Richard Levy and David Robay will manage day-to-day operations, which they have shared since July 1999. While the exits reignited questions about the downsized Bozell, New York president Tom Bernardin was upbeat in an internal memo, noting, “Change is good, and I’m sure this one will prove positive for all of us.”