Omnicom shifts Cone Communications under Porter Novelli

Cone will keep its brand, and CEO Bill Fleishman will stay in his role as Cone CEO.

L-R: Brad MacAfee and Bill Fleishman.
L-R: Brad MacAfee and Bill Fleishman.

BOSTON: Omnicom Group has brought Cone Communications under sister agency Porter Novelli, the holding company said Thursday morning.  

Both Porter Novelli and Cone will maintain separate brands. Bill Fleishman will stay in his role as CEO of Cone, reporting to Porter Novelli chief executive Brad MacAfee.

Omnicom billed the move as an opportunity for Porter to integrate Cone’s CSR and consumer brand communications into its operation and provide Cone with access to the 60 countries in which Porter has a footprint.

"Where we got excited, for consumer brands, is that we will have an offering with Cone for those who want to take [CSR] to a whole different level," MacAfee said. "We’ve been strong in social impact campaigns for nonprofit and government, but we didn’t have quite the same level when it came to the brand side."

Omnicom said in a statement that Cone has helped to raise more than $1 billion for social issues. The firm has worked with clients including Timberland, Keurig, and Ben & Jerry’s.

"We will see more and more of a desire for clients to take on issues where they think they can make a difference and that are material to their business," Fleishman said. "Clients are going to be asking for ways to make the biggest impact with their efforts, as opposed to just reacting to what’s happening in the news."

Talks about adding Cone to Porter’s network began last spring and progressed last fall, said MacAfee. The agencies have put together integrated teams for the accounts of T-Mobile U.S.A., the Almond Board of California, and OrthoLite.

MacAfee and Fleishman said they do not anticipate staff changes and predicted the move will encourage collaboration.

"We want to align skilled people with their passions," MacAfee said. "There might be a good chance for people at Porter Novelli who do CSR work to work more closely with Bill's team. We’ll make that happen."

At the start of the year, Daggerwing Group similarly merged into Ketchum Change and joined the larger Ketchum network. The resulting organization kept the Daggerwing Group name, and Daggerwing CEO Ewan Main began reporting to his counterpart at Ketchum, Rob Flaherty.

Omnicom restructured its PR firms within the DAS division almost a year ago, putting former Porter Novelli CEO Karen van Bergen in charge of the newly formed Omnicom Public Relations Group. The umbrella group includes Porter, FleishmanHillard, Marina Maher Communications, Portland, and Mercury.

Omnicom’s public relations firms achieved 7.7% organic revenue growth in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with the prior year, to $358.9 million. That rate outpaced all other Omnicom segments in Q4. For the full year, Omnicom’s PR segment achieved organic growth of 2.8% to $1.4 billion.

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