Ellen Freeman Steps Down

Regional media services pioneer Ellen Freeman has stepped down as chief executive of Carat Freeman. She is entering a new phase of her 25-year marketing career, consulting to Carat while she pursues other avenues.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to have created a company from an idea, drive it, lead it and watch it grow,” said Freeman.

Freeman, 46, founded the firm as Freeman Associates in 1986 and rapidly became one of New England’s largest independent media planning and buying concerns. Three years ago, Freeman sold the business to communications conglomerate Carat Worldwide. Since then, the renamed Carat Freeman has increased its billings from $225 million to more than $700 million at its offices in Newton, Mass., and San Francisco.

“When I sold the company, I set certain goals in all areas such as revenue growth, clients and new offices. The company has surpassed all of my expectations,” Freeman said. Carat Freeman’s clients include America Online, which the company has represented since 1992, Radio Shack, Nokia, Pfizer, CMGI and Hewlett-Packard.

“Ellen did a great job in raising the visibility of media in all of New England and in creating, along with Carat, a true media powerhouse,” said Lisa Berman,who for 12 years headed the media department at Boston’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos before joining the Donovan Group in Northborough, Mass., last year. Nancy Ryan, president of Pro Media, an independent shop in Natick, Mass., called Freeman “a pioneer in the technology media buying industry. She took a chance and built herself a very substantial business.”

In addition to consulting for the agency, Freeman will spend her time running a restaurant-bar and bed-and-breakfast on Cape Cod called Esther’s.

“It has been an incredible experience and an honor to be able to shape this industry and to see the changes that have taken place,” Freeman said.

When Carat bought Freeman’s company she signed a three-year contract. In anticipation of Freeman’s departure at the contract’s conclusion, a senior management team was set up under president Don Byrnes. “I think Ellen created a great company. She was a visionary in high-tech advertising,” said Byrnes, who has been running the business day-to-day. There is no immediate plan to change the agency’s name. Jonathan kannair