FGI’s Plans Are in Limbo

Chapter 11 Client, Creative Drain Cloud Transition
ATLANTA – With its largest advertising client in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, combined with the recent departures of four of its key creative personnel, FGI’s vision of transforming itself from a research-driven agency to a full-service integrated marketing shop is in flux.
“The transition is not working,” according to the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based agency’s ex-art director, Rick Kourchenko.
“This is not a big deal,” countered agency president Tom Butta. “We are not worried.”
Kourchenko resigned after the departure of FGI chief creative officer Denzil Strickland and creative director Jimmy Bonner. Strickland and Bonner were in the process of forming their own creative shop, called Garage, and were reportedly dismissed when FGI management “became aware of our [future] intentions,” according to Strickland.
Less than a month before that the company’s highly touted recruitment of marketing president John Barnes from New York’s Ammirati Puris Lintas blew up when he soon left to join the Los Angeles division of Carat ICG.
In an interview when he first joined the $85 million FGI last March, Barnes said his goal was to turn the research-heavy organization into a more balanced integrated marketing shop.
In May, however, FGI’s largest creative client, Conxus Communications of Greenville, S.C., filed for Chapter 11 protection, citing liabilities of more than $100 million. Competitive Media Reporting lists the voicemail paging company’s 1998 expenditures at $7.3 million.
Mark Allen, marketing vice president at Conxus, and agency chief Butta would not comment on the amount of money still owed to FGI by the company. Allen did say Conxus was currently operating with “no [ad] budget.”
Butta and another agency official would not say who was now in charge of FGI’s creative department. ¡