Golin buys FL firm Nixon to focus on social marketing

CHICAGO: Golin/Harris International is buying the Florida-based Nixon Group, and turning it to into a new social marketing practice.

CHICAGO: Golin/Harris International is buying the Florida-based Nixon Group, and turning it to into a new social marketing practice.

Nixon, with $4.2 million in revenue last year, is known for its work in the anti-tobacco movement. It represents the American Legacy Foundation (an anti-smoking group), as well as smoking prevention programs in nine states. It has racked up three consecutive years of 30% revenue growth.

The deal could signal Golin's return to the acquisition trail after last year's lull. "We'll continue to strategically analyze opportunities, and there will be more,

said CEO Rich Jernstedt.

Golin already does some social marketing (handling anti-smoking campaigns in Georgia and Illinois, for example), but has not had a formal practice, said Jernstedt. It's currently combing through business being done by its existing practices to see how much can be classified as social marketing, and then folded into the new practice.

Golin has competed with Nixon for anti-smoking assignments and worked with the agency on other projects, and was therefore familiar with its work, Jernstedt said.

Negotiations for the take-over started about a year ago.

David Nixon will become EVP at Golin, working on developing the firm's healthcare, consumer marketing, and corporate communications business in the Southeast region.

Rob Anderson, a Nixon shareholder, will also become an EVP, leading the new social marketing practice based in Golin's Washington, DC office.

Nixon's existing DC office will merge with Golin's office there.

In addition to the social marketing expertise gained in the deal, Nixon also strengthens Golin in Florida, where Nixon has offices in Miami and the state capital, Tallahassee.

"Having a presence in Florida makes sense for us,

said Jernstedt, noting that the Florida Department of Citrus is one of Golin's larger accounts.

Nixon's presence in Tallahassee should help Golin expand its public affairs work in Florida, he added.

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