Fenton is, quite literally, a firm on a mission. Founded in 1982 by legendary progressive activist David Fenton—dubbed “the most dangerous man in America” in rightwing circles—Fenton Communications remains a public interest firm that often appears more driven by causes than currency. Fenton himself is CEO, a former photographer who rubbed shoulders with Abbie Hoffman and Allen Ginsberg before leading landmark campaigns against nuclear power, pesticides, and apartheid in South Africa. He remains closely affiliated to advocacy groups such MoveOn.org, America Coming Together, Campaign for America’s Future and the AFL-CIO.
These days, the firm he founded has evolved into a 35-person operation that has added a digital practice, a production studio and - perhaps most importantly - a corporate social responsibility arm. The latter development includes a new focus on corporate clients, but the firm is adamant that it will continue to only represent causes in which it believes. And it is difficult to argue with this assertion considering that many of Fenton’s senior executives have left other agencies in search of work that allows them to sleep easy at night. The top team includes chief strategy officer Lisa Witter; West Coast MD Parker Blackman; and New York MD Rob Anderson. Key hires in 2010 included Susan MacPherson, who arrived from PRNewswire to oversee the corporate practice; and Steve Clemons, a public policy specialist who heads Washington DC.
Business has picked up after the recession, thanks to a number of social media and CSR assignments. Key clients include the AFL-CIO, the American Lung Association, ASPCA, Americans for Financial Reform, BornFree, MoveOn.Org, Tavis Smiley on PBS, the California Wellness Foundation and Half the Sky. A key campaign highlight was Fenton’s work for Healthcare For America Now, helping secure passage of President Obama’s landmark healthcare bill.
Fenton has also announced plans to launch in the UK.—AS