by Gwen Moritz
Posted 7/9/2014 11:40 am
Updated 3 weeks ago
The Cranford brothers — Jay, Ross and Chris — announced Wednesday a new business venture following their surprise departures from Little Rock ad agency Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods this spring.
The three have formed a new advertising agency called Cranford Co. — actually a limited liability company — to be located in downtown Little Rock. Their father, Wayne Cranford, also left CJRW and will be "of counsel" to Cranford Co. in the way that veteran attorneys are often attached to law firms without actually being partners.
Mary Mel French, former chief of protocol for the federal government, is also acting in an of-counsel role, and Page Atkins is acting as business development adviser. One full-time employee, website designer and art director John Hornor Jacobs, started work on Monday for the new firm, which Ross said has already been doing work for "paying clients."
"The 'co' stands for company, of course, but also collaboration, cooperation, community and a whole lot more," Ross Cranford said in a press release delivered to Arkansas Business on Wednesday morning.
Cranford Co. is in negotiations on about 2,000 SF of office space in downtown Little Rock. In the meantime, the Cranford brothers can be reached by phone at (501) 944-9295; an announcement video was launched online Wednesday at CranfordCo.com.
Jay, 48, and Ross Cranford, 46, resigned suddenly from CJRW at the end of April, and Chris, 41, who had been creative director for CJRW's video division, added his resignation in May when he returned from a trip to Nepal. Jay said the brothers already had "philosophical differences" about the agency's management, which "came to a head when they required the entire company to sign non-compete agreements."
By leaving what is generally considered the largest advertising agency in the state, and one of the oldest, the Cranfords are joining the changing model of the advertising industry. The "factory" model that bloomed in the "Mad Men" days of the 1960s and flourished for decades is being replaced with smaller "garden" agencies that provide full service but not necessarily with in-house talent.
Cranford Co. will offer advertising, marketing, social media and digital services.