Fromowitz sets up new shop

Michael Fromowitz has left McCann Toronto to form his own company called Red Ball Tiger with its first client billing US$20 million annually.The new firm will have offices in San Francisco, Toronto and Hong Kong.Its first office will be in San...

Michael Fromowitz has left McCann Toronto to form his own company called Red Ball Tiger with its first client billing US$20 million annually.

The new firm will have offices in San Francisco, Toronto and Hong Kong.

Its first office will be in San Francisco because two of the partners and client tci (Telecommunications Inc.) are located there.

tci, previously with Hal Riney & Partners, is the largest owner of cable tv systems in the world and is No. 1 in the u.s., with 20% of the market.

It owns 25% of cnn and Turner Broadcasting, and 49% of The Discovery Channel.

Fromowitz says Red Ball Tiger will have no more than five clients, adding, he is close to signing the second and third clients: a German candy company and a famous u.s. sports and model celebrity who markets branded products and has other business interests.

Fromowitz’s partners in the new venture are Gregory Wilson, a former writer/creative director with Hal Riney & Partners, who worked with Fromowitz at FCB Canada many years ago, and Carey Crosby, who just resigned as head broadcast producer for Hal Riney to join Red Ball Tiger.

Fromowitz is searching for a fourth equity partner who will be a planner/account person.

A network of non-equity partners with experience in specialized marketing disciplines is also being established.

Fromowitz says he is positioning Red Ball Tiger as a brand agent, much like a talent agency for movie talent.

‘The talent starts off as nothing, and you build them into a star,’ he says.

‘We’re looking at the same thing with brands.

‘We’re not interested in doing the retail side of things. The client may want to do some local advertising in certain markets – we’re not interested in handling that. We’re interested in handling the corporate side of his brand.’

Red Ball Tiger will also concentrate on ‘messaging’ rather than advertising.

‘With advertising, the medium is the message,’ Fromowitz says.

‘Messaging is the integration of content and context,’ he says. ‘Unlike in advertising, the two are not separate entities, but, rather, one and the same.’

‘Messaging relies more on the creativity of the content rather than on the weight of the media, and does not look and feel like advertising, rather it has the look and feel of something of relevance to the consumer.’

Fromowitz moved back to Canada in July 1993 to join McCann Toronto as senior vice-president, executive creative director after nine years of being based in Hong Kong.

For his last three years in Hong Kong, he was regional creative director for Backer Spielvogel Bates, responsible for agencies in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipai, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta.

Fromowitz was not the only senior staffer to leave McCann this month.

Lorraine Hughes, media director, has moved to Chiat/Day to replace David Cairns, who left to start his own company.

Hughes had been senior vice-president, national media director with McCann for a year and operated her own company, Hughes Media Services, for about a year before that.

She was media director at Baker Lovick Advertising and was one of the casualties when the agency merged with McKim in 1992.

Hughes started her career at Ted Bates and then moved to top media posts at Scali McCabe Sloves and Vickers & Benson Advertising.

Craig Simpson, president of McCann Toronto, says he is already hard at work on replacing Fromowitz and Hughes as soon as possible.

Hughes’ replacement will come from within the Canadian marketplace, while Simpson may look farther afield for a new creative director.

Simpson says he is not in a panic to hire quickly.

‘Our hothouse organizational structure helps us here and is very much self-sustaining,’ he says.

‘It’s not in the old sense like having two headless departments because we don’t have departments anymore, we have interdisciplinary units, which we call hothouses.

‘They’re functioning on their own. The creative director becomes more of a coach.’