The subject of agency consolidation is one we come back to repeatedly at PRWeek, and it raised its head again following Tuesday's announcement of the acquisition of Glover Park Group by WPP.
The Sir Martin Sorrell-led group purchased the DC-based strategic communications and government relations specialist for an amount thought to be in the region of $45 million. It is the second PR acquisition this year for WPP, following its annexing in January of Blue State Digital, the agency that worked on the President's “ Obama for America” campaign in 2008.
It follows a trend of the major holding companies acquiring specialist agencies in particular verticals, such as Omnicom taking over healthcare and women's specialist Marina Maher Communications and Publicis acquiring tech and healthcare firm Schwartz Communications. In fact, Publicis appears to be buying at least one agency a week these days as it seeks to fulfil Maurice Levy's desire to beef up its digital and global capacity.
Acquisitions such as this carry less likelihood of client conflicts and enable the holding companies to beef up areas where it perceives it has a weakness. They also reinforce the thoughts expressed by Sir Martin in a column he did for the December print issue of PRWeek, where he evangelized about the future of PR and public affairs and its metamorphosis into the fields of knowledge, information, and strategic and creative thinking.
That's great approbation from the leader of one of the world's leading marketing services firms. It also gives the lie to those who said there were no more independent agencies out there worth acquiring. Glover Park and Marina Maher are excellent firms and well-respected in their fields. I have no doubt there will be more such deals before the end of the year as the big holding companies look to reinforce their scale even further.