Bonfire Labs announces new ownership structure

Advertising, Business

Bonfire Labs, the creative studio known for its extensive work for some of the world’s most recognizable brands such as Google, Facebook, Salesforce and many others, announced a new ownership structure led by current partners Chris Weldon, Mary Mathaisell and Jim Bartel. The announcement comes on the heels of the retirement of Lisa Hinman and John Crossley, the last of the original founders.

“Lisa played a crucial role in our company’s history and it’s the intention of the current partners to continue the 30 year legacy that she helped establish and make sure that the intimate, boutique feel of Bonfire continues”, Mary Mathaisell, Bonfire’s Executive Producer, said.

In addition to Bartel, Mathaisell and Weldon, Bonfire Labs has named Creative Lead/Head of Creative Technology Phil Spitler; Creative Lead/Head of Editorial Robbie Proctor; and Head Of Production Sheila Smith as Associate Partners.

“The evolution of Bonfire Labs to a creative content studio that operates as a hybrid between an agency and production company is significant,” Bartel, Bonfire’s Managing Director, says. “One of the reasons we’ve been able to stay relevant in an industry of constant change is our ability to evolve with the changing demands of our clients. Our willingness to adapt is one of the factors to our long term success.”

Bonfire Labs began in 2009 but it’s origins in the Bay Area go back some three decades. The company was founded by Lisa Hinman, John Crossley and Bob Frisk who worked together at One Pass/Editel San Francisco in the 1980s. A fire in the early 1990s led to the closing of Editel’s doors, and the three went off on their own to start the appropriately named Phoenix Editorial as an editorial boutique working primarily on broadcast advertising. In 2009 Bonfire Labs was launched, expanding Phoenix’s services to include design, animation and visual effects.

Led by Bartel, in 2012 Bonfire Labs shifted its business model, a move driven in part by observing the changing market and needs of their high-tech clients.

“There was an appetite for an agile creative partner that could help with the seemingly never-ending need for content for the web, social channels, events and every manner of marketing communications. Shortly after, Mary and Chris joined us to help make our vision a reality,” Bartel says.

Mathaisell adds, “Looking at the history of the company, one of the reasons for our success has been our ability to have a clear-eyed outlook on where the business was heading and moving accordingly. We saw the future was less about being a vendor to ad agencies, more about partnering with brands directly, and that’s where we really pushed and took a risk. We’re a company that has longevity because we’re constantly evolving, changing, meeting market needs of our clients and that’s what’s going to keep us relevant in the future.”

Weldon is the one partner with the unique perspective of having been a Bonfire client before joining as their Head of Creative Strategy And Development.

“What attracted me then and prompted me to join still holds true: Bonfire is an amazing and collaborative partner, purpose-built to develop and execute content at the speed and with the quality that today’s brands demand,” Weldon says, “and has shown throughout its history not only a willingness, but a desire to constantly evolve.”