Martin Closes Its Outpost in S.F.

The economy has claimed another ad-agency victim in the Bay Area.

The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., is shutting its Northern California office, citing the slow economy. A key factor in the decision was the loss of a $10 million project from Charles Schwab. That assignment, which involved helping the brokerage appeal to women, was a major reason Martin opened an office here in the spring of 2000. Following that loss, the office was left without any clients of significant size.

Martin joins a growing list of shops that have ceased operations in San Francisco, including Leo Burnett Technology Group, Saatchi & Saatchi and Lowe Lintas & Partners.

“This is the most intimate group I’ve ever worked with. We’ve all been trying to figure out how we can work together again,” one Martin employee said.

The outpost appeared to be on track earlier this year as Mike Hughes, agency president and creative director in Richmond, worked with the West staff to compensate for the market’s woes. The shop contemplated closing in recent months, said sources, but stuck it out to see if new business would materialize. When it didn’t, the agency decided it had no choice but to close, sources said.

The office will shut its doors officially at the end of this week.

Martin will likely try to keep some of the 11 employees who are losing their jobs, including managing partner Alda Abbraciamento. Creative director Kathy Hepinstall is returning to Austin, Texas, to concentrate on fiction writing and to market her upcoming novel.