Rick Milenthal and Dave Mering
Rick Milenthal (left), CEO of The Shipyard, and Dave Mering.

Mering, a San Diego-based advertising agency, has announced four new clients as it draws closer to an expected company name change at the end of the month.

In business since 1985, the 60-employee Mering agency was acquired in December by The Shipyard, a Columbus, Ohio-based marketing agency. The Shipyard, founded in 2014, also has about 60 employees. The 120-employee combined firm operates offices in Columbus, San Diego, Newport Beach and Sacramento.

A Shipyard spokesperson said the Mering name is expected to change by June 1, although she declined to provide specifics. Dave Mering, agency founder and namesake Dave Mering, did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

The four new clients to be serviced by employees with Mering and The Shipyard include:

  • CAS, a consulting firm that provides scientific information solutions.
  • Visit SLO CAL, a tourism destination marketing organization promoting San Luis Obispo County.
  • Serengeti Eyewear, based in Overland Park, Kansas.
  • California Wines, also known as the Wine Institute, a San Francisco-based trade group and public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated business.

The Mering agency, founded in Sacramento, has operated a San Diego office for the past 15 years. Greg Carson joined the agency as a writer in the early 1990s and became a partner in 2006, when the firm’s name changed to Mering Carson. Carson left in October 2018 and the agency’s name became Mering in 2019.

In December 2020, after a rough year in business when many of the agency’s tourism industry clients quit advertising because of COVID-19-related shutdowns, Dave Mering sold the agency to The Shipyard for an undisclosed sum. The deal closed Dec. 8.

At the time of the sale announcement, Mering told Times of San Diego, “Our first order of business will be to make sure we aren’t distracted by the integration, we want to be focused on our clients. We will slow-walk integration and then in a few months worry about branding.”

Mering clients include Visit California, San Diego Tourism Authority, VSP Vision Care, KSL Resorts, Monarch Beach Resort, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Merlin Entertainments (Legoland), California Wine Institute, California Grown, Tahiti Tourism North America and Visit Napa Valley.

The Shipyard clients include In-N-Out Burger, American Electric Power, Scotts Miracle Gro, Weleda, Protective Insurance, Bollé Brands, NCR, BrewDog, Sempra, Nationwide and CO-OP Financial Services. 

Rick Milenthal, CEO of The Shipyard, said in a statement to Times of San Diego, “It is our intention to be the leading agency in San Diego for many years to come. We are fully committed to the region long-term.”

DUDE Agency of Tijuana Wins Stevie Award for Innovation

DUDE, a digital marketing agency based in Tijuana, has announced it is the recipient of two Stevie Awards to be presented June 30 at the 19th annual American Business Awards. They awards include the Gold Minority-Owned Business of the Year and Silver Most Innovative Company of the Year, up to 100 employees category.

Chris Martinez

“I am extremely honored to have DUDE recognized as the Minority-Owned Business of the Year,” says Chris Martinez, who founded DUDE in 2017. “Part of our mission is to create jobs and inspire people who have been underrepresented in the technology industry, as tech has some of the lowest rates of minorities in leadership positions. This just pushes us forward in accomplishing that.”

The company name was originally devised from an acronym for “Digital Updates Done by Experts,” said Martinez.

“After our first conference, everybody loved ‘DUDE,’ so we just went with DUDE,” Martinez told Times of San Diego. “Also, I’m from Southern California and ‘dude’ is used for everything.”

The agency has 87 employees with about 50 of them at offices in Tijuana and Rosarito in Baja California. Other employees are based in the Philippines, India, Peru and Bangladesh.

Martinez said Stevie Awards judges were impressed with the company’s rebound during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and its business philosophy of “Bridge, Connect and Deliver.” He said DUDE lost 18 percent in revenue in one week in March. However, by the end of May, the entire staff had returned and additional employees were hired in October and November, bringing the year-end total to about 60.

According to a DUDE statement, Stevie judges said, “The hard work and determination of this business owner to succeed despite a pandemic that closed many doors is impressive. By bringing your employees together and creating a strong foundation, they will, in turn, show the same appreciation to the clients. ‘Bridge, Connect, Deliver’ is a brilliant way to encourage and streamline the company culture and client relationship.”

DUDE clients include RBA, a branding and advertising agency in Dallas, Wonderist Agency of San Diego that specializes in websites for dentists and Los Angeles-based Turbo Medical Marketing, a lead-generation digital agency for plastic surgeons, medical spas, opthalmologists, dermatologists and OBGYNs.

Former U-T Reporter Anne Krueger Wins College PR Lifetime Achievement Award

Anne Krueger

Anne Krueger, a former The San Diego Union-Tribune reporter who joined the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in a public information role in 2010, has been presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Community College Public Relations Organization, an organization that promotes marketing excellence among California’s 116 community colleges.

Krueger, communications and public information director for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca district, recently received the All Pro Award. She served two years as president of the college PR organization.

She spent 27 years (1983-2010) at the U-T covering East County after working as a reporter for four years in Florida at the Palm Beach Post.

San Diego’s IDEA Part of Seismic Shift in Outdoors Media

Pocket Outdoor Media, the Boulder, Colo.-based parent company of San Diego-based IDEA Health & Fitness Association, recently announced the acquisition of Outside Integrated Media. A local spokesperson for IDEA, a membership association for fitness and wellness professionals, told Times of San Diego that terms of the deal and purchase price were not disclosed.

The acquisition, expected to close in the second quarter, has been described as a seismic shift in the outdoors journalism business because the extent of media properties involved.

Outside Integrated Media, based in Santa Fe, N.M., publishes Outside Magazine and Peloton magazine, plus operates a website, podcasting operation, licensed travel company and Outside TV, a provider of outdoor lifestyle TV and video programming. Outside magazine, created in 1977 by Jann Wenner, who also founded Rolling Stone, reaches 38 million people monthly across multiple platforms. Outside Integrated Media also operates Gaia GPS, an app for backcountry adventurers, and athleteReg, an event registration platform serving runners, triathletes, cyclists and skiers.

As part of the acquisition, Pocket Outdoor Media announced its company name has changed to Outside. An Outside company statement described itself as “the new center of gravity for active lifestyle consumers” and said the deal creates a platform across television, mobile, desktop and print in the outdoor, endurance, fitness and wellness markets.

In addition to IDEA, properties owned by Outside, the former Pocket Outdoor Media, include such publications as Yoga Journal, Ski, Backpacker, VeloNews, Climbing, Rock & Ice, Gym Climber, Trail Runner, Women’s Running, Triathlete, Better Nutrition, Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, Clean Eating, Muscle & Performance, The Voice and Vegetarian Times.

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.