Barker & Ralston is poised for a ground-breaking merger with a
management consultancy, in what is being claimed as the first marriage
of its kind involving a UK agency.
It will join with PDP International to integrate strategic advice with
creative expertise, under the name Mountain View. The new company claims
it will have a combined annual fee income of more than pounds 4
Peter Mitchell, soon to retire as strategic affairs director of
Guinness, will be non-executive chairman of the merged operation, whose
managing partners and principal equity holders will be David Barker and
Derek Ralston, the agency’s founders, and Thomas Bayne, PDP’s chief
News of the deal comes as agencies become increasingly concerned about
consultants encroaching on their territory and charging clients large
sums for advice.
The merger is a dramatic initiative by Barker & Ralston, whose future
seemed in doubt earlier this year. The loss of pounds 15 million worth
of Abbey National business in February, together with the agency’s
removal from Saab’s pounds 8 million UK account last year, wiped almost
three quarters off its billings.
Shortly before the Abbey National loss, the agency announced it was
teaming up with McCann-Erickson, but the planned relationship came to
Ralston said this week: ’We are creating a new generation of marketing
The merger will precipitate other senior level changes with Matthew
Heath, the account director who previously ran the agency’s Abbey
National and Saab accounts, becoming managing director of Mountain
Richard Carman, a writer, and his art director, Julian Scott, who
together produced the agency’s work for Beck’s Bier and Kia cars, become
joint creative directors.
Their promotion will enable Barker to relinquish overall creative
command to concentrate on consultancy, while maintaining relationships
with key Barker & Ralston clients, including E&J Gallo Californian
The merger, after almost a year of talks, reunites Barker with Heather
Auton, one of PDP’s senior consultants with whom he worked when she was
a client at Clairol, and Ralston with Bayne, his contemporary at the
former Davidson Pearce agency.
The 43-strong combined agency will open its doors officially on 1
September from new central London offices.
’This is a new but long overdue concept,’ Barker said. ’It enables us to
offer insights into clients’ problems and also implement the solutions.’