Viewed from London, it’s easy to ridicule Omnicom’s acquisition of
the GGT group. A merger-weary UK market can only view the prospect of a
combined TBWA Simons Palmer BDDP GGT with some mirth.
Of course, both sides are at pains to point out that whatever the logic
of merging businesses around the world, there is absolutely no intention
to merge the London agencies. They are, the argument goes, both strongly
performing brands with management line-ups that will drive each agency
Sounds plausible. However, up until the moment of their merger last
year, the respective managements of Bainsfair Sharkey Trott and GGT were
denying that merger was imminent - despite it being seen as inevitable
to all, including most of those claiming it would never happen.
Logic and cost savings prevailed - as they had to under public company
ownership. And, whatever the current public positions, it is difficult
to see beyond the logic of merging BDDP GGT and TBWA Simons Palmer
There is no obvious client conflict, and respective network offices
around Europe may find themselves being merged anyway.
There may be senior management mayhem - the agencies look a tad
top-heavy as it is. But, to be honest, when isn’t there senior
management merger mayhem? Which senior figure from TBWA remains in the
post-merger top line-up? Admittedly, some personnel clashes run deep:
it’s hard to imagine Trevor Beattie back at TBWA, or Paul Simons
reporting to Mike Greenlees again, but viewed from atop (Omnicom boss)
John Wren’s mountain, such issues are flies to be swatted.
Whatever happens, both sides need to be sensitive to employees’
Fresh from the last mergers, they will be apprehensive about the next
few weeks. Whatever it says in Omnicom’s document, they will need some
pretty serious persuading that the logic of merger will not prevail - or
else, a decision to merge must be taken swiftly. We’ve all been here too
many times before to be fobbed off.
The good news for GGT Group staff is the nature of the purchaser.
Omnicom has a track record of paying good money (at 200p a share GGT is
hardly a steal) for businesses and making them work. It is known for
including managers in its decision-making, and it is the group that
contains - arguably - the world’s most creative networks: DDB Needham
and BBDO. Small comfort to staff worried about their futurebut -
assuming the deal goes ahead - it really could have been a lot worse.