Emanate, Access Communications to merge at start of 2016

The combined firm will be led by Access Communications founder and CEO Susan Butenhoff. Emanate CEO Kim Sample has decided to step down.

NEW YORK: Access Communications and Emanate will merge at the start of next year into a combined firm known as Access Emanate Communications that will operate as a standalone firm inside Ketchum’s network.

The shop will have offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London.

Access Communications founder and CEO Susan Butenhoff will lead the merged firm. Kim Sample, CEO and founder of Emanate, has decided to step down from the agency.  

Butenhoff said the firms have "similar DNA," adding they will maintain hands-on roles by senior managers while expanding their services. She noted that the agency’s exact leadership structure is in the works.

Butenhoff added that more technology clients are "positioning themselves as power brands" as they face increased competition from rivals.

Ketchum acquired San Francisco-based Access Communications in October 2008, but the latter continued to operate independently under its own brand name. Butenhoff began reporting to then-Ketchum CEO Ray Kotcher at that time. Access was founded in 1991.

Ketchum spun off Emanate with Sample, previously a partner and associate director of Ketchum New York, at the helm in April 2006. Its clients at launch included Embassy Suites Hotels, National Geographic Society, and Panera Bread. Emanate then became a part of Omnicom’s Diversified Agency Services network.

Last August, Ketchum promoted Butenhoff to a dual role running both its technology practice globally and Access. Matthew Afflixio, EVP and creative director, was named president of Access at the time.

Nick Propper, Emanate president, said the merger gives the firm "a heavyweight presence on the West Coast."

"[It combines] two very entrepreneurial, very commercial, very passionate groups of people," he said.

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