Lapham/Miller Branches Out

Seeking to stay competitive by offering new services to current and potential clients, Lap-ham/Miller has launched McMahon & Shaffer Brand Promotions.

Boston-based McMahon & Shaffer operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of the parent agency. The venture is headed by president Scott Bernstein, who is an equal partner in McMahon & Shaffer, along with Lapham/Miller president Chip Rives.

The goal is to help the overall Lapham/Miller organization attract national business and expand its relationship with clients by offering a broader array of services.

Rives said it was difficult for a 30-person shop to attract noteworthy accounts but that offering promotions should “allow us to get more heavily involved in consumer” accounts.

The startup, which has a staff of three, does not actually employ anyone named McMahon or Shaffer. The monicker refers to late-night TV sidekicks Ed McMahon and Paul Shaffer, and is intended to underscore the unit’s dedication to supporting the growth of client brands.

Bernstein said he and Rives—friends for more than a decade—had “kicked around the idea” of going into business together since 1996. That year—with Bernstein overseeing promotions for Boston’s Hard Rock Cafe and Rives serving at sports marketing shop Woolf Associates—the pair teamed to hype the National Hockey League’s All-Star Game in Boston with a celebrity-studded Hard Rock soiree featured in an MTV special.

Shortly thereafter, Bernstein moved to New York, where he spent three years as Hard Rock’s national director of marketing and the past two as vp, sales and marketing for TouchPak, a provider of advertising-supported content to cellular phones and other hand-held devices. He and Rives, who had moved on to communications agency Lapham/Miller in Andover, Mass., kept in touch, and a few months ago began seriously talk-ing about a formal alliance, Bernstein said.

Currently, McMahon & Shaffer is providing events management and public relations support for Hard Rock, and has begun developing promotions for Allied Domecq’s Stolichnaya Vodka and Fox Sports Network.

The independent shop claimed $5 million in revenue for 2000.