Carat Freeman Reforms

Media Firm Enters Interactive, Events Arenas
BOSTON–Carat Freeman in Newton, Mass., will lead parent company Carat North America into the online planning and buying marketplace.
In an exclusive interview last week, Carat Freeman president Ellen Freeman told Adweek that in addition to recruiting and promoting several senior media executives, her agency will be restructured into four operating companies, including one devoted exclusively to planning and buying advertising on the Web.
The units, accountable for their own profits and losses, are Carat Freeman in Newton, Carat Freeman in San Francisco, Carat Interactive and Carat Face to Face. The interactive and face-to-face divisions will be located in the Newton office.
The rationale for the moves is to protect the agency’s equity in the technology marketplace while pushing into new arenas. It will “position us well to have a much deeper relationship with clients,” Freeman said.
In a related development, two technology publishing veterans last week joined the rapidly growing media buying firm. Fifteen-year Ziff-Davis Publishing executive Don Byrnes was hired by Carat Freeman to fill the new role of chief operating officer. Joel Deceuster, most recently at CMP, has been named senior vice president of Carat Freeman in San Francisco, which recently landed NEC Computer Systems’ estimated $30 million media account.
In addition, longtime senior vice president Sarah Fay was promoted to managing director of Carat Freeman in Newton.
Each operating company will be led by a managing director who will report to Byrnes. Byrnes, in turn, will report to Ellen Freeman, who takes her orders from Carat North America chairman David Verklin.
Ellen Freeman will help screen acquisition candidates to bolster both Carat Interactive and Carat Face to Face, a job for which she feels particularly well suited. “Having just gone through the negotiations to sell my company, I know what some of the sensitivities will be,” she said.
Carat Face to Face, pioneered by senior vice president Gwyn Thakur, evaluates some 17,000 trade shows and seminars. Thakur will turn over the reins of that unit when Ellen Freeman finds a managing director. She is interested in either hiring an individual or buying a small company that specializes in that area. Thakur will assume a new role in corporate communications aimed at helping to define and raise awareness of Carat Freeman outside technology circles.
The drive to enter the burgeoning online planning and buying arena was initiated by Carat Freeman’s recent involvement in the launch of The Gillette Co.’s Mach3. Working in conjunction with Think New Ideas’ offices in Stoneham, Mass., and New York, Carat Freeman handled the planning and placement of ads, banners and links on the Internet for the Boston-based company, Freeman said.
The majority of Carat Freeman’s $175 million in billings is derived from placing media for such companies as America Online, Seagate Software and Dow Jones Interactive Publishing.
The hiring and restructuring come just six months after Ellen Freeman sold her 10-year-old shop, Freeman & Associates, to Carat North America for $5 million in cash. She stands to gain an additional $7.5 million over the next three years if her company achieves certain performance goals [Adweek, March 30].