OPINION: Stuart Elliott in America

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

Tierney Communications.

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.