DDB enters public interest sector

WASHINGTON: The public interest arena, already suffering from greater competition and fewer opportunities, now has a new entrant to contend with: DDB Bass & Howes.

WASHINGTON: The public interest arena, already suffering from greater competition and fewer opportunities, now has a new entrant to contend with: DDB Bass & Howes.

This latest addition to Washington, DC's public interest sector, defined by firms that devote themselves to social issues and nonprofits, was formed when integrated shop DDB Seattle purchased Bass & Howes, a public interest agency with offices in New York and Washington. DDB then merged its issues and advocacy group with Bass, creating a public interest shop with advertising, marketing, and PR capabilities - and international aspirations.

Adding together the two firms' 2001 billings creates a $46 million agency, the majority of which comes from DDB. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Managing partner Candy Cox conceded that the sector her firm will be entering is a troubled one, but she cited an expected upturn in the market and the breadth of DDB's offerings as justification for the move.

"In addition to the economy, the events of September 11 really reduced the number of issues that people wanted to talk about, and made it difficult for a variety of nonprofits to get attention for their issues,

she said.

"But the combination of our advertising and PR (capabilities), combined with Bass & Howes' political savvy and public policy experience, make us smarter across the platform."

Cox, formerly of DDB Seattle, will serve as managing director. Arlene Fairfield, also of DDB, will become director of advertising and public relations. Bass & Howes' three principals, Joanne Howes, Nanette Falkenberg, and Marie Bass, will all become partners.

The two firms began their collaboration in 1996, working to promote a little-known option for "day after

contraception, and have maintained a working relationship ever since. Initial clients include The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, Pfizer, and the Alliance to Save Energy.

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