IPG unites PR brands into two mega-firms

NEW YORK: In a single stroke, the largest PR agency in the world has just been born. The Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) is consolidating its three major PR brands, Shandwick International, Weber Public Relations Worldwide and Golin/Harris, into two mega-agencies.

NEW YORK: In a single stroke, the largest PR agency in the world has just been born. The Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) is consolidating its three major PR brands, Shandwick International, Weber Public Relations Worldwide and Golin/Harris, into two mega-agencies.

NEW YORK: In a single stroke, the largest PR agency in the world has just been born. The Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) is consolidating its three major PR brands, Shandwick International, Weber Public Relations Worldwide and Golin/Harris, into two mega-agencies.

Effective January 1, 2001, Shandwick International will merge all offices and operations with Weber to form Weber-Shandwick Worldwide. It will leapfrog Burson-Marsteller to become the world's largest PR firm with more than dollars 320 million in fee income and 2,500 employees in 68 offices around the globe.

Although the merger was engineered by Weber Group founder Larry Weber, he will soon return to his new position as chairman and CEO of IPG's Allied Communications Group (APG), leaving the way open for a fight between top executives at Weber and Shandwick (see box) for the top position.

Neither Shandwick (ranked 12th in last year's Harris client survey) nor Weber (ranked 27th) are well known in the US, despite their prodigious size and ranking (third and 12th respectively.

However, Weber told PRWeek, 'Shandwick has always been known as a global pioneer; this power, combined with Weber's technology leadership, will take us to an overall world leadership position. And with that we will now have the bully pulpit to set the industry agenda.'

He added that the consolidation would lead to considerable cost savings and client efficiencies, 'freeing up capital to explore technology and innovation for our clients.'

However, Weber claimed that no layoffs would result from the merger.

The reorganization will pose some client conflicts - for example HP is a Shandwick client and Lexmark is with Weber. Weber is, however, confident that these difficulties will be resolved, 'to the satisfaction of our clients.'

A question mark hangs over the fate of some of Shandwick's existing sub-brands, such as Miller-Shandwick Technologies.

However, Golin/Harris has made out well, gaining a handful of Weber-owned agencies, which will double its fee income. It will add capabilities in public affairs (Weber McGinn), lobbying (Barbour Griffith Rogers) and technology (TSI and Mindstorm), and extend its geographic reach. It will continue to be run by chairman Al Golin, CEO Rich Jernstedt and president Dave Gilbert.

Weber-Shandwick will be headquartered in New York, with Weber CEO Marijean Lauzier stepping into the president/COO role, and Shandwick CEO Scott Meyer shifting to chairman of the new agency. Shandwick's public affairs practice will be run by Gerry Cassidy under the umbrella of The Cassidy Companies. All three report to Weber, who said he will hold the reins for an undetermined amount of time before returning to IPG full-time.

Reaction to the news from industry watchers and insiders reflects the industry's current size obsession.

Lou Hoffman, CEO of Silicon Valley independent The Hoffman Agency said, 'I admire Larry. He's always said that the one and only thing he cares about is being the biggest, and his actions reflect that.'



WHO'S IN CHARGE?

Weber-Shandwick

Larry Weber, CEO

Marijean Lauzier, president, COO

Scott Meyer, chairman

Gerry Cassidy, CEO, (The Cassidy Companies)

Golin/Harris

Al Golin, chairman

Rich Jernstedt, CEO

Dave Gilbert, president.





Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.