Lerch Opens Beige Communications in L.A., N.Y.

It may seem a dicey time for a new ad agency to set sail, but Liliane Lerch isn’t worried.

The Swiss creative director, who helped launch DaimlerChry sler’s Smart car in Europe in the late ’90s, is opening a creative boutique, Beige Communications, in Venice, Calif., and New York.

“Good advertising is always needed,” Lerch said. “We have a big thing going for us—we’re very small, but we have the experience of the big [agencies].” She also cited accessibility and lower costs as advantages for the agency.

Beige plans to serve European clients doing business here and U.S. firms operating in Europe. The entity evolved from online shop Liliane Lerch.com, which Lerch founded to represent European clients when she came to the U.S. in 1999.

“Clients want to have people working with an understanding of where they’re coming from,” said Lerch, former creative director at Weber, Hodel, Schmid in Zurich, Switzerland. “Translating and adapting thoughts and cultures into a new environment is very important.”

Lerch chose the name “Beige” because it’s the same word in many languages. “It can be industrial, high-gloss, classic, a little dirty, maybe, and very modern,” she said. “It is a color, but it never outshines its clients.”

The four-person “creative think tank” offers services such as brand development, naming, corporate identity, packaging, Web design and print and TV advertising. It is also using a network of freelancers.

Managing director Rainer Kunst, who held the same title at Weber, Hodel, Schmid, is currently manning the New York outpost by himself. Alex Kohnke, formerly an art director for LilianeLerch.com, is a partner at the California office.

So far, the agency’s clients include coffee and tea press maker Bodum International, Swiss soda company Rivella U.S.A., European office furniture manufacturer Vitra U.S.A. and Mercedes-Benz, which has tapped Beige for special projects.