Today, we’re pleased to announce a new beginning for The Advance Guard, as we officially join forces with one of the most exciting brand storytelling companies we know, Campfire.
When we launched The Advance Guard in 2007, we never had any grand plan to merge with - or be acquired by - another company. We often talked of how we would be happy working as a small partnership for the rest of our careers, provided we could continue to attract top tier clients and execute great projects for them. While so many companies seem to set out with a clearly defined “exit strategy”, we always believed the path to success lay in concentrating on how to stay IN business, simply by being the best.
But as we sat in a quiet little bistro in New York City earlier this Summer and the idea of an acquisition was first floated, it opened up so many possibilities we hadn’t considered. We’ve worked for Campfire on a variety of projects since our inception - indeed, our office is within the walls of their company. Together we’ve thrown block parties for Verizon FiOS, sent mysterious letters to taste-makers for True Blood and Terminator: Salvation, and helped online fans face their fears with the launch of F.E.A.R. 2 and Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. In many ways, we were already working as a well-honed team, one that truly seemed to understand new and innovative types of marketing, which we believe brands will increasingly need in today’s changing media landscape,
Together, we comprise a top notch team of creative, strategic and business savvy individuals, with strong backgrounds in entertainment, advertising and community building. We can offer a unique set of services to clients that takes us beyond just a social media agency. Together we can start to tell brand stories within communities, in ways that have never been done before.
While we have no doubt social media will continue to be a powerful tool for CRM and Customer service, our experience to date has shown us the huge potential for communities to embrace and absorb multi-channel marketing narratives. Partnering with the expert storytellers at Campfire seems like the natural next step to channel our expertise. It’s a really exciting decision for us, and we hope all our Friends and Fans will join us for what we expect will be a wild ride.
You can read the official press release below. A social media press release is also available.
CAMPFIRE ACQUIRES THE ADVANCE GUARD TO CREATE FULL SERVICE CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FIRM
Team of Experts Tackle Next Generation Media
August 24, 2009. New York. Campfire, the New York-based brand entertainment shop responsible for some of the industry’s more memorable campaigns for Sega, Levi’s, Audi, Pontiac, Verizon, HBO, and Discovery Channel, has acquired The Advance Guard, one of the first marketing consultancies to focus on the consumer conversation side of emerging technology and community platforms. The Advanced Guard co-founders Steve Coulson and C.C. Chapman will join Campfire’s executive team of partners, Steve Wax, Mike Monello, Gregg Hale, and Jeremiah Rosen, as Creative Directors. Financial terms of the acquisition are undisclosed. The Guard’s 2008 billings approximate $1 MM, while Campfire’s annual billings are estimated at $7 MM. The merging of the two companies will bring Campfire to a total staff of 25.
Since its own inception in 2007, The Advance Guard has collaborated with Campfire on several groundbreaking campaigns including HBO’s ‘True Blood’ viral controversy; Verizon FIOS’s original TV makeover series, ‘My Home 2.0’; Discovery’s ‘Shark Week’ adventure marketing; and Snapple’s latest digital ‘Real Facts’ initiative. Such successful collaborations led to Campfire’s decision to acquire the shop.
“This acquisition was a natural step forward in providing Campfire with access to The Advance Guard’s thinking from day one,” explains Steve Wax, Managing Partner. “We are delighted to have them in-house at Campfire.” Director of Accounts, Jeremiah Rosen, commented, “Steve and C.C. have proven themselves crucial to our ideation and execution process time and again. And we now have a new, accessible offering for our current and prospective clients.”
Coulson and Chapman founded The Advance Guard to fill a void in the realm of social media. Coulson comes from a rich alternative media background. As an agency director at both JWT and McCann Erickson, his portfolio included award winning brand work for the likes of DeBeers, Ford, Smirnoff, WSJ and Unilever. He is also known for creating the successful pop culture blog www.yesbutnobutyes.com, which to-date feeds a community of up to 1 MM readers per month.
Chapman, whose background is in social engagement, is revered as a pioneer of podcasting and new media. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe and appeared on CNN during Obama’s inauguration to comment on the CNN/Facebook integration effect. As the host of the famed weekly podcast, Managing the Gray, Chapman educates people on how to best leverage the social media landscape.
One of The Advance Guard’s earliest successes was a pioneering social media experiment for American Eagle Outfitters. This led to more breakthrough work for the likes of Coca-Cola, Warner Brothers, St Martin’s Press, and more.
“Steve Coulson and C.C. Chapman are the master navigators behind the social media scene who make transmedia storytelling possible,” remarks Mike Monello. “We think cross-platform, they execute cross-platform. We create addictive and entertaining content, and they disseminate it strategically based on research and analytics. It’s a perfect match that brings Campfire completely full circle and full service.”
Campfire opened its doors in 2006 and has helped the advertising industry achieve great strides in brand storytelling and entertainment marketing ever since. Monello and Hale, two of the shop’s founding partners, recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of their 1999 classic cult creation, The Blair Witch Project, a pitch perfect study in the power of social media marketing.
“We’re eager to fully integrate our process into Campfire’s legendary narrative efforts in marketing,” says C.C. Chapman. “Bottom line, brands should be managing their own conversations – and the trend toward bringing on experts to help them do that will continue to grow. Both The Advance Guard and Campfire were built to assist brands in precisely this way, and we look forward to a successful and entertaining ride.”
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