A number of new account wins and Publicis Groupe's acquisition of Schwartz Communications were highlights of a busy news week, and many of the stories reflected a trend towards consolidation.
Schwartz will sit within Publicis' PR arm MSLGroup, which continues its efforts to build an operation that has the scale to rival the behemoths at Interpublic Group, Omnicom, and WPP.
Whilst it may not be a complete game-changer, the $25 million revenues Schwartz achieved in 2010 will add significant scale to MSL's offer in the tech and healthcare fields, and on the West Coast and in Boston. It complements the group's recent PR acquisitions in China, India, Brazil, and Taiwan.
The challenge now will be to properly integrate the new elements with the MSL culture without losing the USPs that made Schwartz and the other agencies attractive acquisitions in the first place, which all holding company bosses will testify is no easy task.
But the race towards scale is clearly part of the need to support clients that increasingly think big is better, and who don't want to sit around a table with 10 or a dozen agency partners – rather, they want a few trusted advisers who can supply big ideas and implement them across a variety of platforms.
Listen to Sonita Lontoh, director of corporate marketing at cleantech company Trilliant, which PRWeek this week revealed ditched Element PR and chose Edelman as its new AOR: “We really need a firm that has that global footprint,” and “It got to the point where Trilliant and the board were looking for someone to partner with us to take us to the next step,” says Lontoh.
Or Michael McHale, director of corporate communications at Subaru of America, which PRWeek this week revealed chose MWW Group to take over its AOR responsibilities for Subaru of America, ditching incumbent Brushfire in the process.
"Brushfire did nice work for us, but with our increased outreach we wanted to engage a higher-profile agency," he wrote. "We have grown sales by 50% in the last three years and we want more people to know about and understand our brand."
MWW removed itself from the IPG holding company umbrella because it desired greater independence, but it is still a $35 million agency with high-profile CPG and corporate clients.
While there is still a place for the small, specialist firm with in-depth knowledge and the ability to offer senior counsel, many clients now seek the sheer global scale and presence of the big networks or high-profile independents, and the Schwartz acquisition by MSL is one more sign of that remorseless process towards consolidation and cross-discipline integration.