Bill Southard amassed a ton of big agency experience—holding senior management positions at agencies such as Dorf & Stanton and Earle Palmer Brown—before launching his own firm Southard Communications, in 1994. So it’s no surprise that Southard quickly establishes his new agency as one of the premier marketing communications boutiques in New York, with clients in a broad cross-section of consumer and technology categories and a particular expertise in the toys and games industry.
The agency’s three founding partners—Southard himself, corporate practice leader Jeyran Ghara, and consumer practice leader Lisa Hanlon—have worked together for more than a decade, and four other staff members worked with Southard at Dorf & Stanton, providing the firm with a solid base of experienced staff and a remarkably low turnover rate that translates into excellent client service. Not surprisingly, client retention is similarly impressive, with long-term clients ranging from toy maker Leapfrog to the Association of Graduates at the U.S. Military Academy.
Last year was a banner year for new business, with account wins including Toymax (formerly with Shandwick), house ware retailer Lechters, and technology clients Giantbear, Encore Development, and Xlibris.com. Billings were up a very healthy 66 percent to around $5 million, and Southard also opened a service office in San Francisco to provide west coast support to New York clients and better access the consumer technology sector. Key staff additions include Meg Phee, former PR director for the National Endowment of the Arts and Nicole Russo, who joined from Ruder Finn.