It seems like it’s been a while since we heard from the Frogpond, but we have received confirmation that Jake Baldridge has left the agency. Sources familiar with the matter tell us that Baldridge, who was an account director for various clients including New Balance, Mahindra, Heineken (in 2010), Sabra and MDVIP, worked at Frog for well over three years. Our sources tell us that he’s heading to Durham, NC to join a strategy firm called the Paragraph Project.
We’ve been told by those familiar with the matter that Michael Densmore, who’s spent a solid nine months at Droga5 as group account director, is mulling an offer to take on the managing director role at StrawberryFrog. Densmore, though, has plenty of agency cred, having spent five years at Modernista as partner/director of account services, new business, nearly three years at W+K as management supervisor and two years at JWT serving as global business director and leading the JetBlue account.
We know we’re probably harping on the matter, but hey, this story keeps coming undone like a sweater and it feels like we’re watching a cliffhanger of some melodrama. The latest tidbit comes from our sources, who sent us this little note from the CFO at StrawberryFrog:
“Scott and his lawyers have authorized that you can call back the reporter at Adweek …Janon Fisher [redacted]. And tell him the statement about you being fired by StrawberryFrog is not true. And you can tell him “that my leaving was by mutual agreement, completely amicable and that we have no outstanding issues between us”. And he can call me to corroborate it. He has my name and contact details.”
As for Jeff Schur, who was essentially replaced by Frances Rhodes at SF, he clarifies what his duties entailed at the Frogpond: “I was brought in as a part-time consultant, initially for a period of 4 weeks in mid-October last year to help them figure out operational efficiencies. This initial consulting assignment was extended several times until March
2011 when my part-time assignment was completed.”
We’ve also been told by sources familiar with the matter that Chip Walker, formerly head of planning and partner at StrawberryFrog, was bought out. Now, he’s director of brand planning/innovation at Y&R. Additionally, our sources add that the agency is in the last rounds to hire a new managing director, who may come from Europe. Stay tuned..and now cue the Melrose Place music.
About six weeks ago, we reported about the departure of Ilana Bryant, who was chief strategy officer at StrawberryFrog NY. While it seemed the door was eventually shut on the matter and both Bryant and the agency moved on, this is apparently far from the case. We here at AS have obtained a memo that SF boss Scott Goodson sent to New York staff today regarding the Bryant situation. It reads:
“Dear Frogs: a former employee, Ilana Bryant, left our agency couple of months back and now she is in a contractual dispute with the agency. She is saying really negative things about the agency. These are false and baseless. She is trying to get as much as she can from us. This should not be a reflection on the success we have achieved and the hard work we have all put into our work. This company has been a success since its founding twelve years ago. We have very strong and continued relations with many clients and we remain committed to our future success and the growth of a great agency.”
Here’s the official word from StrawberryFrog regarding Ole Pedersen, in nice image capture form. As you know, Pedersen was formerly global group planning director at Deutsch NY.
We’ll get official word on this tomorrow as we’re actually scheduled speak to whomever is the new chief strategy officer at StrawberryFrog (love surprises), but a few spies tell us that Ilana Bryant‘s replacement is one Ole Pedersen, currently global group planning director at Deutsch NY. Pedersen’s resume has planner written all over it, as he’s held that title in varying degrees at agencies including Goodby, DDB and BBDO. We’ll have this hopefully solidified by tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned…
Update: According to sources familiar with the matter, yes, you know it’s true. But was Pedersen pissed because he was passed over for a position at Deutsch for someone else? That we don’t know is true.
Our ever-reliable sources tell us that StrawberryFrog managing director/partner Sophie Kelly has left the agency. We’ve been getting tips over the last couple of days talking about “big changes at StrawberryFrog” so we’re assuming these were pertaining to Aussie native Kelly, who joined the Froggers two years ago from JWT. During her nearly six years at the latter agency, Kelly held posts including global business director for Diageo.
Kelly’s not the only major StrawberryFrog exec that’s called it quits, though, as chief strategy officer Ilana Bryant has also walked out the door. Bryant’s LinkedIn does in fact indicate that she’s joined up as a strategy partner at a consultancy called Special Forces. She had been with StrawberryFrog for over five years.
Update: Girl, you know it’s true, Kelly is in fact “moving on” from StrawberryFrog. We’ve been told it was a “mutual agreement.” Here’s the official word from the agency:
In the two years Sophie has been with the pond, she has made an enormous contribution to the growth of the business. Under her leadership we have secured more retainer clients, grown existing clients, improved our product and diversified the types of projects we take on in the content and new media area. Sophie’s experience at StrawberryFrog has opened her eyes to new possibilities in the content creation and new media area that she has a desire to go and explore. Kelly joined the agency as lead Business Director and went on to be Managing Director reporting to the CEO. StrawberryFrog plans to fill the both jobs, most likely with two people. During the transition, Scott Goodson will act as MD of the New York agency while a search is underway.
Sophie says: “Leaving is difficult. I have a lot of respect for the agency. It is a very emotional thing for me to leave an agency that has been so wonderful to me. I have great passion for StrawberryFrog.”
“We will miss Sophie. She leaves a friend of the FrogPond and we are inspired by her time here. We are sad to see her go,” says Scott Goodson, founder and CEO.
Tire brand Pirelli, famous for its very exclusive calendars of course, has awarded its national account to StrawberryFrog Brazil after a pitch. According to the folks at the Sao Paulo-based agency, “StrawberryFrog will be developing a Cultural Movement strategy for the brand and then bringing it to life in multiplatforms from digital to [TV], to emerging technologies and all points in between.” The national account had been previously handled by Leo Burnett while the global Pirelli biz went back to Y&R Milan in late 2009.
Meanwhile, there have been rumors of problems with the Pampers digital account Stateside. In September 2009, Procter & Gamble surprisingly tapped StrawberryFrog to handle the global digital business for its diaper brand. Now, multiple tipsters tell us that it’s going up for review and that a few folks on the account team have already left. The agency isn’t responding to our multiple inquiries, so we’ll leave this as a “We Hear” item for now.
Update: We’re now hearing word that Pampers is safe with the Froggers. We’ll keep you posted.
We’ve been told by reliable sources that there were some cuts, specifically in the creative department, made at StrawberryFrog’s NY quarters. Exact numbers are hazy at this point (spies say “a bunch”), but from what we hear, there will be a meeting in the coming days to address “some changes” at the agency, which could also be announcing new hires soon enough. When reached for comment/confirmation, we received this placid/cryptic statement: “We continue to evolve ahead of client needs for innovation in technology, emerging media, mobile and e-commerce.” Draw your own conclusions from that, but we’ll keep you posted.
Before you jump to conclusions about “The Girl Store,” remember the 1995 movie Rent-a-Kid. In the attempt to make a family comedy classic, Hollywood used the late, great Leslie Nielsen to make light of orphanages and the idea of children being used as a commodity. It was in pretty bad taste.
In stark contrast, The Girl Store is actually dedicated to saving young girls from cycles of sex slavery and underage marriage by acting as an e-commerce website where users can buy impoverished girls the items they need to attain a proper education. The idea grew from StrawberryFrog’s touching web series, “A Girl Story,” developed for Project Nanhi Kali, which asks for donations to help young Indian girls escape a life of second-class citizenship.
StrawberryFrog is launching a physical location of The Girl Store in Manhattan this Thursday. An invitation to the opening reception follows after the jump.
Update: Link fixed!