The closing of Leonard/Monahan in 1998 turned out to be a story within a
story. It signaled not only the demise of the state’s most prestigious
advertising agency but a shift in the old way of doing things.
Gone is the old-style shop focused on traditional media and dependent on
a smattering of big-money accounts for its revenue. Here is the shop
dedicated to branding an array of clients through whatever means
Leonard/Monahan President Bruce Leonard largely blamed the Feb. 27
closing of his agency on the loss early that month of a key account with
the Polaroid Corp. When the Cambridge, Mass., company consolidated its
commercial advertising dollars in a single Boston agency,
Leonard/Monahan lost about a quarter of its $30 million in annual
Leonard told the Providence Business News at that time that he had
failed to adjust to industry changes by offering a range of services
from design to public relations to direct marketing.
“The business itself is going through a tremendous transition. I think
the traditional agency isn’t going to be the agency of the future,”
Leonard predicted. “There will be less structure, things will happen
faster because more of the work will be digital and people with ideas
are going to be more important.”
Lukens Boostrom Clark Design – located a floor below Leonard/Monahan at
127 Dorrance Street – briefly assumed that role. Hours after
Leonard/Monahan shut its doors for good (leaving about 300 creditors who
can expect to receive about a quarter of the more than $2 million owed
them, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for
the District of Rhode Island), Leonard went to work as full-time
consultant to LBC. However, the arrangement was short-lived. About six
months after absorbing several former Leonard/Monahan employees and
accounts, and declaring itself a full-service communications company,
LBC split with the adman and returned to its design firm roots.
The rift spawned a new creative shop in Nail – the collaboration of a
couple of LBC hires who found themselves downsized almost as quickly as
they were hired. President Chuck Carmone and Creative Director Brian
Gross, working out of space in LBC’s offices, already have created a
five-spot campaign for the expanded Alperts Furniture showroom in
Seekonk. They also have done work for Salve Regina University in
Newport, Berkshire Blankets in Ware, Mass., and Dolomite ski and hiking
boots in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Providence’s 25-year-old Duffy & Shanley agency, in an effort to offer
clients what President David Duffy called a “multiplicity of shelf
products,” went the route of creating a couple of new divisions last
Besides advertising, direct marketing and public relations, those
products now include duffyshanleyinteractive, or dsi, and D&S Sports. In
creating dsi, the agency partnered with Kira Greene, owner of
Providence’s fledgling kWeb interactive! Web site consultancy.
In the case of D&S Sports, the agency acquired the majority of the
assets of Craigville Sport Associates, Inc. of Providence. Jeremy Duffy,
a partner in the two-year-old sports marketing company and David Duffy’s
son, is heading that division. The division specializes in marketing,
promotions, sponsorship sales and event management.
Martha Brown, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Advertising
Agencies in New York City, said the move toward diversification and
partnering is the future of the industry.
“Ad agencies are more and more evolving into marketing and
communications firms either by growing new divisions or acquiring
specialty firms,’ Brown said.