For years, shoppers were wooed by products with packages that
proclaimed "New and improved!" Now, an entire agency company intends to
wrap itself in the corporate equivalent of that boldly assertive
In less than two weeks, the Interpublic Group of Companies is to become
the world's number one marketing communications behemoth, in both
billings and revenues, if, as expected, shareholders of True North
Communications approve Interpublic's proposed dollars 2.3 billion
takeover deal. The acquisition will set off a top-to-bottom revamping of
Interpublic, parent of agencies such as Draft Worldwide, Lowe Lintas &
Partners and McCann-Erickson, that may turn out to be the most ambitious
restructuring ever to take place on Madison Avenue.
John J Dooner Jr, who leads Interpublic as the chairman, chief executive
and president, has been huddling with top lieutenants redrawing the
Interpublic organisational chart, now a sprawling diagram almost as
broad as one of the old "wide-track" Pontiacs sold by longtime
Interpublic client General Motors. The goal is to make the True North
purchase the catalyst for a sweeping rationalisation of operations that
will affect virtually every agency under the Interpublic umbrella as it
simultaneously establishes the centerpiece of True North, FCB Worldwide,
as a separate global network.
About the only Interpublic unit scheduled to emerge from the process
looking about the same as it does now is the McCann-Erickson World
Group, the division formerly led by Dooner that is the home for
agencies, mostly named McCann-Erickson or variations thereof,
specialising in services such as advertising, customer relationship
marketing and media planning and buying. (Even so, the McCann-Erickson
offices in Texas are likely to be rebranded under the name of Temerlin
McClain, a fast-growing agency in that state that is one of the
properties to be absorbed from True North.)
But just about every other Interpublic agency is to be realigned in the
overhaul, in which Dooner seeks to bring together the other shops in
groups or clusters not unlike the McCann-Erickson World Group model.
Among those likely to be transplanted in one form or another are Avrett
Free & Ginsberg; the Bozell Group; Campbell-Ewald; Carmichael Lynch;
Dailey & Associates; Deutsch; Draft; Golin/Harris; Initiative Media;
Lowe Lintas; the Martin Agency; Mullen/LHC; Suissa Miller; TN Media; and
The big question looming over all that rearrangement of the furniture is
how it will play with the executives now running the agencies
They're a feisty bunch, fiercely independent and turf-conscious and
unwilling to be pawns, cavalierly moved about.
Those who marvel at the task Maurice Levy performs at the Publicis
Groupe in taking care of personalities from Hal Riney and Bob Bloom to
Pat Fallon and Kevin Roberts will undoubtedly watch raptly the juggling
act under way at Interpublic as Dooner strives for an outcome that will
satisfy the likes of Frank Lowe, Donny Deutsch, David Bell, Brendan
Ryan, Lou Schultz, Larry Weber, Howard Draft and Michael Sennott.
Not to mention the employees and the clients.
Will Dooner be a doer? Will the new Interpublic be a doozy or a
Watch this space.