Nitro loses last remaining founders of Soul

Soul founders Bruce Crouch and Andy Bird are leaving the agency 18 months after it was bought and renamed by Nitro Group.

Crouch has stepped down as managing director of Nitro’s London agency, but is in talks with Nitro founder and group chairman Chris Clarke. It is thought they are plotting a spin-off creative shop based in London which would be group-owned but independent of Nitro.

The news comes as Nitro reveals two new hirings – former FutureBrand vice-president Chris Nurko and Tribal DDB founder Steven Marres – to expand the services offered by the developing global network.

Nurko will head a new branding division called Left Blue Sky, which will concentrate on innovation, while Marres becomes global head of digital content. Both will be based in London. The agency is also searching for a London-based global planning director.

Head of art and design Bird has tendered his resignation and is believed to be close to joining another London agency. Crouch and Bird were the only founding partners of Soul to remain at the agency following its acquisition in June 2005. It is believed they were tied to 18 month earn-out clauses.

Soul was set up by Crouch, Bird, Seamus O’Farrell and Kevin Brown in 2000. Brown and another founder, Duncan Bird, left after the acquisition.

Brown, a former Starcom Motive media director, rejoined Bartle Bogle Hegarty as its head of engagement planning (MW September 22, 2005). Duncan Bird joined Sony BMG in February as vice-president of brand partnerships, while O’Farrell left in 2003 to join Leo Burnett.

Last month Nitro appointed TBWA/G1 Europe president Johan Fourie as European managing director.

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