Magazine article ADWEEK

Richard Kirshenbaum: On the Spot

Magazine article ADWEEK

Richard Kirshenbaum: On the Spot

Article excerpt

Richard Kirshenbaum has serious chutzpah. Now 46, married and the father of three, he started Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners with Jon Bond 20 years ago. The New York agency where Bruce Willis researched his role in this year's Perfect Stranger celebrated the anniversary with an exhibition of its work at the Paley Center for Media (previously the Museum of Television and Radio) and orange T-shirts emblazoned with "20 Years of Serious Chutzpah." The co-chairman talks about his favorite clients, the importance of having a good lawyer and his dating advice to Hilary Swank.

Q: This year KBP turned 20. What have been the high points and low points?

A: I always say it took us 20 years to become an overnight success. We've created a dynamic and growing business and are having the best time we've ever had in 20 years. The low points in this business always have to do with the difficulties, e.g. making hard decisions like having to let people go or losing a piece of business. In a downturn you have to let people go and it's a bummer.

MDC Partners just upped its stake in KBP from 60 percent to 100 percent. What are you going to do with the infusion of money?

We waited a very long time to do a deal with someone. KBP has always innovated and incubated and looked toward the future. We were one of the first agencies to become integrated and build it from the ground up. Whether it's growing another division in the agency or buying something for the agency, we're very interested in mulriculture and new technologies. Anything from how to communicate with consumers to communicaring in a more interesting manner with consumers. When I got into the business 20 years ago, the Internet wasn't invented.

What new technologies are you interested in?

As the world continues to grow and expand, from a technological point, so will offshoot companies. I couldn't imagine 20 years ago what an interactive company would look like without the Internet. It's hard to tell because maybe it hasn't been invented yet.

You never replaced Rob Feakins, the former ecd who left a year ago, and you function as KBP's CCO as well as co-chairman. Why haven't you put a new ecd in place yet?

I developed something called the Baskin-Robbins approach to creative directing. Instead of one cd who is expected to oversee everything, I have a number of senior-level cd's who are different flavors. It's a much more entrepreneurial model. Someone working on a beauty business account is very different from someone working on the Mohegan Sun account or financial business like Edward Jones. We like to match up creative talent with personal interests and passions. Those things go into who is running a specific piece of business.

Eight months ago I brought in Izzy [Isidoro DeBellis]. …

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