Loeb Throws His Hat in the Ring

Though many would say it’s an inauspicious time to do so, Jef Loeb has opened a new agency—the second shop to launch here in a month.

The former Katsin/Loeb creative director is calling his venture Brainchild Creative. The boutique, based out of Loeb’s home here in town, will provide freelance work for established agencies and seek clients of its own. Loeb is now looking for his first piece of business.

The launch comes weeks after Paul Venables and several other veterans of San Francisco’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners established Venables/Bell & Partners. That shop started with a bang, snagging Microsoft’s $50 million Ultimate TV account from FCB San Francisco.

Loeb, 47, said his decision to open a boutique stems from a desire to get back to the nitty-gritty of creative work—something he hinted at when he left Katsin/Loeb.

“I had to set things up in a way where I would focus on the creative product and less on economics,” he said. “A way to do that [is] to create a virtual creative boutique with no fixed office space.”

Loeb said many creatives are leaving agencies to focus on writing and art direction instead of office politics. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if more small shops crop up, and that in today’s uncertain economy, ad people are more likely to strike out on their own than stay in traditional agency structures.

“The recession has accelerated the pace at which talented people are leaving agency structures,” he said. “This isn’t for everybody. There’s always a class of client and agency that wants to try and step out of the box with a different approach.”

Loeb served as chairman and creative director at Katsin/Loeb for 12 years. While there, he won a Gold Lion at the 2000 International Advertising Festival for his work on the Cybercash account. His former partner, Daniel Katsin, is now with Gardner Geary Coll in San Francisco. At its peak, Katsin/Loeb had billings of roughly $40 million.

Brainchild’s advisers include Fallon veteran Rob Dalton, former BBDO executive Robert Chandler, former Fallon president Steve Sjoblad and former Cole & Weber and BBDO creative director Rod Kilpatrick.