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We Hear: Two More Folks Leave the Frogpond

Sources familiar with the matter tell us that StrawberryFrog’s New York office has lost two more notable staffers, namely Richie Grantham and Katie Lewis-Hepp. Grantham, aka “Richie G,” just joined the Froggers in January as group planning/strategy director, which was a newly created position at the time. Prior to that, he served as chief innovation officer at Sarkissian Mason, during which time he spoke to us about digital ideation and intellectual property.

Lewis-Hepp, meanwhile, spent a bit more time at StrawberryFrog, joining the agency four years ago from Fallon as interactive producer. She eventually moved up to lead, digital production in 2009.

Update: Grantham has confirmed that this is his last week at StrawberryFrog, and from the looks of his response, he’s leaving on good terms. He tells us, “In the short amount of time I have been here, I have had the privilege of working with some of the best talent in the industry. And I will miss them.”

We Hear: Apelbaum Out at StrawberryFrog

The saga continues at the Frogpond it appears. Barely a week after account director Jacob Baldridge made his exit, we’ve been told by reliable sources that Suzana Apelbaum, who served as a digital executive creative director at StrawberryFrog, resigned from the agency yesterday. Apelbaum had been with SF for 15 months.

The creative kickstarted her career in Brazil, starting as a copywriter in Rio de Janeiro and then serving as creative director at shops like AgenciaClick, JWT and Africa Propaganda. She eventually moved on to become partner/CCO at Hello Interactive and then Rede, though it looks like she only spent seven months at the last shop.

On the plus side at StrawberryFrog we suppose, it looks like the agency might have found a replacement for Sophie Kelly, who left in April. Our sources tell us that Melinda Eskell, who has been serving as managing director of the agency’s Amsterdam ops since last October, is now also MD of New York.

Sherri Chambers is Out at Frogpond

We apologize ahead of time for two StrawberryFrog-related posts in one day, but anyhow, we’ve received confirmation that Sherri Chambers, who most recently served as business director at the agency, is calling it quits. We have it on good authority that Chambers is headed to the West Coast to work at 72andSunny. We’re still waiting on the Cali-based agency to give us word on what her new position/start date is. Anyhow, Chambers spent nearly seven years in the Frogpond, serving as account director on Beam Global Spirits, Frito-Lay, Heineken global and Hyatt.

Chambers is not stranger to the agency world, having worked on the account side at the likes of Goodby, TBWA\Chiat\Day, KBS+P and the now-defunct Cliff Freeman & Partners.

Jake Baldridge Out at StrawberryFrog

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.

StrawberryFrog May Have a New MD…Or Not

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.

If Densmore takes the job, he would replace longtime Frogger Sophie Kelly, who left under the best of terms last month.

The StrawberryFrog Directive: You Left on Good Terms

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.



A Battle Brewing Between StrawberryFrog, Former CSO?

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.”
But from what sources familiar with the matter tell us, Bryant isn’t spreading negative word about the agency at all but just wants what’s allegedly being held from her, which is equity. According to our sources, Ilana was a partner at SF and instrumental in developing the agency’s “Cultural Movement” brand, so if in fact she hasn’t received her due, Bryant obviously has some merit with her dispute. We hear Adweek is delving into this story as well, and as the he said-she said saga continues, hopefully we’ll be able to shed more light until the matter’s resolved.

Ole Pedersen is Official

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 Hear: Pedersen Replacing Bryant at Frogpond?

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.

We Hear: Sophie Kelly Leaves StrawberryFrog

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.