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FUSE Create Celebrates Two Decades of Creating Ideas That Turn Heads


Founding partner Garo Keresteci and CEO and Worldwide Partners vice chair Stephen Brown on creating ideas that turn heads, the importance of finding and supporting great people, and claiming their seat at the 'adult table'

FUSE Create Celebrates Two Decades of Creating Ideas That Turn Heads

FUSE Create, a member of the Worldwide Partners (WPI) independent agency network, is part of an integrated collective of specialized marketing agencies focused on delivering the highest standard of marketing, advertising, experiential and healthcare communications to clients. For the last twenty years, FUSE has leveraged data and insights to drive its strategies and creative, always with the goal to deliver business results. We sat down with Founding Partner Garo Keresteci and CEO and WPI Vice Chair Stephen Brown about creating ideas that turn heads, the importance of finding and supporting great people, and claiming their seat at the “adult table.” 

WPI> What do you attribute to your agency's longevity? What principles/practices have led to your continued success?

Garo Keresteci + Stephen Brown> It’s all about people. 

We’ve created and maintained a reputation as a really good place to put down some roots. Where you will be treated well and supported in your career. 

WPI> How has your agency changed/adapted over the years?

GB + SB >> In the early years, FUSE Marketing (our company name until March 2020) was almost always the ‘other agency’, second to the brand (“creative”) agencies on the client roster. We provided a wide array of marketing services, but rarely traditional advertising, and we were an account services-led agency that gave our clients what they asked for. On time and on budget. 

We realised though, that despite many strong relationships, we were not ‘eating at the adult table’. We were usually at the ‘kid’s table’.

Twenty years later, in most of our client partnerships, FUSE Create is the brand AOR or at least trusted for our creative leadership. We no longer give the client what they asked for, but what they need. And the food is tastier at the adult table.

WPI> What services did you provide when you first opened? What services do you now provide?

GB + SB> When we started, our focus was mostly on lower funnel ‘below-the-line’ services: sales promotion, CRM and direct marketing. Fast forward 20 years and we don’t get asked much for this work, mostly because our client roster has changed. We have significantly invested in and improved our strategic and creative capabilities. Our clients turn to FUSE Create for ideas that Turn Heads. Smart thinking delivered to the target through many channels like traditional advertising, digital ads, social media and live events. And we have strategy, creative and media (planning and buying) at the table, from the outset.

WPI> How many people worked at the agency in the first year? How many people are at the agency now?

GB + SB> That first day in January 2003, about a dozen people gathered in temporary space over pizza and cheap champagne (i.e,. Sparkling Wine). CIBC (one of Canada’s top 5 banks) called with a project about 45 minutes in. We didn’t even have a name for the agency, but they trusted the people they knew. And they have been with FUSE for our entire 20-year journey.

Today we are a 70+ person independent agency that punches above its weight class. Way above. 

WPI> Is there anything that is still the same from when you first opened your doors?

GB + SB> Our core values haven’t changed. 

And that we take the work quite seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Lastly, we still have our sense of humour. Sometimes it’s what gets us through the day.

WPI> What is your all-time favorite campaign/project from your agency?

GB + SB> Our rebrand from FUSE Marketing to FUSE Create. We did this during Covid and it was one of the most defining moments in our journey. It reflects our commitment to the creative product. Period. Much more than a new logo, it had an impact on pretty much everything we do. 

Talent. Clients. Work. Our Legacy.

WPI> How long have you been a WPI partner?

GB + SB> About four years.

WPI> How has being part of the WPI network benefited your agency?

GB + SB> WPI has had a significant positive impact on our agency. Being the owner operators of an independent marketing agency can be a lonely place…there are few people that truly appreciate the highs and lows of this industry. So, it is wonderful to be able to draw upon the expertise of WPI members and compare notes with other independent agency leaders.

Through the network we have met experts – inside and outside WPI - that have shared industry-leading best practices with regard to organizational structure and financial KPIs. 

But most of all we have met really interesting and wonderful people who share our passion for doing Great Work for Great People. 

WPI> Anything else you'd like to share?

GB + SB> There are lots of industry associations, but WPI’s single-minded focus on supporting independent agencies has made them a valuable partner to the senior leadership at FUSE Create.

“FUSE Create has been a model partner since day one of joining WPI, consistently going above and beyond to share ideas, resources, and clients with the network,” says John Harris, President and CEO of Worldwide Partners. “As Vice Chair of the WPI Board of Directors, Stephen has been instrumental in bringing new strategies to the table that deliver value for our agencies and their clients, and as MC extraordinaire of our annual Impact Awards, he has been instrumental in bringing a new level of humor and entertainment to our awards ceremonies! I’m looking forward all that FUSE and Stephen will contribute when he becomes Chair this July. ”

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Worldwide Partners, Wed, 15 Feb 2023 08:07:00 GMT