FCB and Bozell agencies worldwide are being merged to create a
giant network and to set the stage for a major acquisition by its True
Grey, Bates and Saatchi & Saatchi are all being mooted as potential
takeover targets for True North in its attempt to join Interpublic,
Omnicom and WPP as a top global communications player.
True North directors and their chairman, David Bell, met at the Bozell
offices in New York on Wednesday to approve the formation of what will
be known as FC Bozell, with combined billings of almost pounds 8.5
Bell is understood to want FCB and Bozell successfully aligned by the
end of the group’s fiscal year in December before trying to buy another
But while FCB and Bozell offices outside the US will be put together,
domestic client conflict issues are likely to result in the two groups
retaining a degree of separation in their home market.
Only two major US operations are certain to be merged - the problematic
FCB in San Francisco and the Bozell office in Costa Mesa, California.
Bozell’s New York agency may remain intact although its office in
Detroit - the home city of its showpiece Chrysler client - will change
The merger will also lead to a more important role for the Bozell-owned
Temerlin McClain, the Texas-based shop whose clients include American
Airlines. Sources say some Bozell offices could be moved under the
FCB’s top managers will be in the driving seat of the merged
Brendan Ryan, FCB’s global chief executive who is almost 20 years
younger than Bozell’s septuagenarian chief executive, Leo-Arthur
Kelmenson, will head the enlarged US operation. Harry Reid, FCB’s
London-based international president, will take charge of all other
The long-predicted merger is seen as a way of moving True North’s
sluggish stock price by increasing margins and cutting overheads. No
major client fall-out is expected although FCB’s Chase Manhattan Bank
clashes with Bozell’s Bank of America, and FCB may be forced to ditch
its car business in Europe because of Chrysler.
A major problem will be combining media operations. In the US, they have
not been co-ordinated since True North’s purchase of Bozell two years
ago. In Europe, the situation is complicated by the joint venture
between Bozell’s BJK&E media operation and CIA, in which WPP has a
News Story and Perspective, p2.