By Rick Griffin
The Lambesis Agency, a high-profile San Diego advertising agency opened in 1987 by Nick and Vicki Lambesis, has closed its doors. The innovative and creative agency known for turning brands into icons, served a host of international clients, including Coca-Cola, Airwalk Footwear, SKYY Vodka, Gold Peak Tea, Tacori, Bebe and Campari.
Following Lambesis’ closure, two ex-Lambesis execs, Chad Farmer, 52, and Brian Munce, 46, have launched a new agency called Gestalt Brand Lab.
Gestalt, which opened on Dec. 1, was recently named as the agency of record for San Diego-based Luna Grill, a fast-causal, Mediterranean cuisine restaurant chain with 50 outlets in Southern California and Dallas-Ft. Worth.
“We are focused on creating something fresh and new as an agency. Opening Gestalt is an opportunity for us to further a vision that we have been wanting to explore for some time,” said Munce, who worked at Lambesis for 12 years. Farmer had been at Lambesis since 1993. Titles at Gestalt will be managing director for Munce and creative director for Farmer.
“We will bring the powerful sum of simple and emotional brand strategy, story and aesthetic together to build brands with deeper connection and purpose,” said Farmer. “We believe in the power of the whole, which will carry through to our partner relationships, allowing us to build brands holistically.
“The world doesn’t need another advertising-only, or digital-only, or social-only agency. But, what the world needs desperately is the power of many inspiring talents contributing to the greater good. The best brands have the ability to do make a meaningful impact in the world. This is what we are focused on building.”
Munce said he and Farmer previously knew Luna Grill owners Sean and Maria Pourteymour, who introduced them to Rich Pinnella, recently named as Luna’s first-ever chief brand officer. Previously, Pinnella was an executive with Taco Bell for 20 years, serving the last seven as a VP and GM.
“We connected well with Rich who wanted to grow, refine and scale the Luna Grill brand in the new year,” Munce said. “We’re looking forward to being an integral part of the restaurant’s evolution in the coming years.”
Pinnella said, “We have an amazing story that people have yet to hear and a clear brand purpose centered around inspiring good food choices. With Gestalt, we have a great partner to help tell that story. Gestalt’s methodology of bringing together emotional brand strategy, story and aesthetic to build brands with a deeper connection fits perfectly with our long-term goals for Luna Grill.”
Munce said Gestalt will help develop Luna’s brand strategy, direct and design every consumer touchpoint and brand experience, including communications, activations, sales touch points and environment so that the entire brand narrative will flow seamlessly and holistically together.
“Luna Grill is the epitome of what you look for in a brand partner,” said Munce. “The food is delicious and they have a unique and intriguing brand story that has yet to be told. And, if that isn’t enough, the people of Luna are all really good humans, genuine, authentic and bright.”
Luna Grill said it plans to unveil some of its first work from Gestalt in January with the rollout of new menu items.
Gestalt also said other recent assignments have included a project in partnership with Red Door Interactive to serve Chosen Foods, an avocado and packaged good brands, and Elemental Superfoods, a healthy snack maker.
A statement from Nick Lambesis said, “With Chad at the helm, Vicki heading up operations and Brian leading account service, we were able to do some of the best work on the planet over the years. With all of us in agreement, it’s time to close the agency and the four of us will pursue other interests.”
Grizzly Agency Adds To Leadership Team
Grizzly, a San Diego creative agency, has announced the addition of two leadership members, with Emma Santangelo as strategy director and Shawn Ritzenthaler as creative director.
Santangelo was previously with Zambezi and Phenomenon of Los Angeles. She also worked as a strategy director of a culinary-focused startup. Her previous clients have included TaylorMade, Men’s Warehouse, Coca-Cola and KitchenAid.
Ritzenthaler was previously the lead designer at MiresBall. He has extensive experience in brand-identiy projects, packaging design, environmental and campaign creative with a number of consumer brands. His previous clients have included Intel, Shure, Petco and Coronado Brewing Company.
“This is an exciting season of growth, and we’re looking forward to Shawn and Emma bringing their talent and experiences to work with our clients and our team,” added Grizzly CEO Nate Spees.
Casey Brookings Joins L7 Creative
L7 Creative, a Carlsbad-based digital brand engagement agency, has hired Casey Brookings as a project manager. She was previously at Indigo Post, a post-production media firm.
Her previous client experiences have included Honda, San Diego Gas & Electric, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Qualcomm, Hewlett-Packard, Ford, Viasat and San Diego Tourism Authority. She has a bachelor’s dgree in broadcast and digital media management from the University of Idaho.
In Remembrance for 2019
In this year-end column, we pay tribute to a few of our friends and colleagues who left us in 2019. In remembrance: Bradley Fikes, San Diego Union-Tribune biotech reporter; Paul Palmer, longtime KFMB radio manager and retired CEO of Big Brother Big Sister of San Diego County; Bruce Walton, former Dallas Cowboys NFL player and general manager of Smooth Jazz 98.1 KIFM-Radio; Michael Grant, San Diego Union-Tribune columnist from 1978 until his retirement from the newspaper in 1992, and former Grossmont College journalism professor for 22 years until 2012; Alan Robert Graff, known as Sam Bass, radio personality for more than 40 years on the airwaves of KyXy 96.5 FM; Susan Russo, a San Diego Union-Tribune freelance food writer; Rusty Harris, retired managing editor of the North County Times newspaper; Jerry Magee, San Diego Union-Tribune sportswriter who covered the NFL; San Diego State University Professor Glen Broom, a pioneer and academic giant in the worldwide public relations industry and professor emeritus at SDSU’s School of Journalism and Media Studies.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.
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