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The Strange Saga Of OWN+P

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Do you know Jeffrey? He used to be part owner of Odiorne, Wilde, Narraway & Partners, in San Francisco. This is one of those agencies where you ask staffers about their time there and the response goes something like, “I don’t want to talk about. I said, I don’t want to talk about it!”

The reason we mention this and the long deceased OWN+P is because Jeffrey Odiorne has left his current position as ECD at Harrisburg’s Neiman Group. We’re not sure why. CEO and founder of the shop Steven Neiman told us that:

“Jeff is a great creative director. We are glad for our time together and we wish him the best.”

This brought the whole story of OWN+P rushing back to the surface. It’s one of the tales that stills gets mentions around the advertising water cooler (read: any bar near or around The Clios, One Show, Cannes, etc.). Here’s the whole strange, strange tale…

ECD Jeff Odiorne co-founded the agency with Andy Narraway, Harry Groome and Michael Wilde in 1994. The shop was part of the rich advertising heyday of San Francisco when fourteen shops called the city home. The future looked bright. They nailed some big business including the EA Sports account and kept shit real.

Harry Groome, head of account services, left early on in the saga (2001) and was replaced by new partner, Wayne Buder. No big deal. In fact, the shop got a bit bigger, added more accounts and added Paula Mangin as the agency’s partner/media director. Everything looked good. They added more bodies, spruced up the office and then, something happened.

Apparently, the boys stopped getting along. The shop got tense as the owners began to battle it out. Jeff has claimed that running the agency was to much and to far from the creative process for him. Wilde exited the shop in 2003 sick of battling it out with Jeff. Two months later, Odiorne also exited stage left.

Odiorne told the media that he would be going forward with some side projects going like his production company, Moxie Pictures, which he ran with his brother, Peter. Jeff also wanted to dabble in consulting and had plans to launch an entertainment-based venture. Odiorne had sold his shares back to the agency leaving Andy Narraway and director of account planning, Keith McVaney, as the only remaining majority shareholders. At the time, Narraway said:

“It’s sad, but people move on. They have different things they want to do in life, and Jeff made that decision.”

The story behind the story is the Jeff had become abusive to clients, as well as staff and was forced out the front door. Odorine has described himself as:

“Expletive, expletive, expletive. People believe that I am very candid, and people believe I am very passionate, but I don’t think people always agree with how I express it.”

So, you know… Anyway, OWN+P was left with 80 shell shocked employees in two countries and meanwhile, had claimed 2002 U.S. billings of approximately $100 million. Andy and Keith tried out other CD’s, but just couldn’t make it work, which led to the closure of OWN+P in 2005. The spirit of the damn thing was gone. Everyone was burnt out. The dream was over.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Narrway is now a partner at Buder Engel Advertising the namesake of Wayne Buder. Keith went on to found his own planning consultancy in New York.

So, where is Wilde? When asked about the dumbest business decision he ever made, Jeff told AdWeek that:

“I think I have rectified it. It was allowing stupid politics to come between myself and Michael Wilde, my former partner. We rectified that by being partners in this new company. He is a perfect fit for what we are trying to do—commercial entertainment.”

Wilde and Odiorne kissed, made up and attempted to start yet another company in 2005, this time an agency/production hybrid Phasmatrope based in Philadelphia. That didn’t work out and we’re not quite sure where Wilde has since landed.
Paula Mangin went on to found her own communications firm, Boyce::Mangin.

As for the employees? The shop had some great talent that walked through its doors. According to some, when the agency was in good shape, Jeff was one of those rare ECDs that offered support, leadership and real encouragement to young talent. Some of OWN+P past employees are flying pretty high now including David Rosenberg, Director of Emerging Media at JWT in New York; Tom Schrapf, Associate Creative Director at Venables Bell & Partners; Karishma Mehta, Art Director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, and Colin McRae, Sr. Copywriter at DraftFCB.

You can see more employees of OWN+P at their Facebook group page.

And that, that is how one agency lost everything and anything including their sanity.

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