Originally launched as Stephens Francis Whitson, the agency rebranded last year after merging with data agency Tree to become part of the VCCP Partnership.
VCCP has now acquired the minority stake in the agency that it did not already own, with Stephens the only remaining founder at the agency. Francis left in 2012 and was succeeded by Jamie Bell from CMW.
Whitson started his career in 1995 in his native Scotland at Faulds Group, where he also worked for Navigator boss Andy Carolan. When Carolan died last year, Whitson said: “I owe him pretty much everything.”
By 1998, he had moved to London, and had spells at Bates, Rapier and GGT Direct before joining Clark McKay Walpole as planning director in 2001. Whitson stayed for three years before joining forces with Stephens and Francis to form VCCP’s direct agency SFW.
He said: “To build a multi-award winning, top London direct agency from a standing start was an opportunity and an experience I will never forget but as the agency takes this new exciting turn for the future it felt the right time to go and leave them to it.”
In a glowing tribute to his former business partner, Stephens said: “Chris has been fantastic to have as a planning partner from the beginning. He has a rare ability to simplify the all too often complicated world of direct; gain the confidence of battle-hardened clients; and fight hard to ensure that the insights he develops inspire creative teams and their campaigns.”
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