NY Times: New Owners for an Agency That Markets for a Cause
Published by NY Times December 16, 2014
ONE of the first agencies devoted to handling communications efforts for causes, nonprofit organizations, charities, foundations and activists seeking social change — a specialty that is now thriving — is being sold by its founder and longtime leader, David Fenton, to investors who are forming a holding group for agencies of that kind.
The agency, named Fenton, is getting new leadership along with its new ownership; the changes are to be announced on Wednesday. Mr. Fenton, who was chief executive, is taking a different role, as chairman, and he plans to devote more time to working on efforts to counter global climate change. To succeed Mr. Fenton as chief executive, the agency is hiring Bill Werde, who was most recently editorial director of the music trade publication Billboard.
The new owners of Fenton are Craig J. Leach and James Marcus, who are the principals of Collegium, a holding group specializing in agencies in the category known by terms like cause marketing, cause-related marketing, prosocial marketing and purpose marketing. Such agencies provide services like advertising, public relations, fund-raising, digital media, event marketing, mobile ads and social media.
When Mr. Fenton opened the agency in 1982, as Fenton Communications, “everyone said I was nuts, and I was,” Mr. Fenton, 62, said during a recent interview.
“At that time, environmental organizations, human rights organizations, health groups didn’t even have press secretaries,” Mr. Fenton recalled. “The biggest change to me over the years is that there is now a market for what we do, a whole big industry in this. And it’s only going to continue to grow.”
Fenton has 60 employees who work at a headquarters in New York and offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. Current and recent clients include the Corporation for Battery Recycling, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Save the Children, the Sierra Club and the Wikimedia Foundation.