Ruder Finn acquires RLA Collective

The 11-person firm based in Westchester focuses on OTC brands.

Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden
Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden

NEW YORK: Ruder Finn has acquired RLA Collective, an 11-person marketing agency focused on over-the-counter brands in North America.

"Our vision is that digital technologies and customer insights and a close relationship with marketers will deliver results," said Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden.

Bloomgarden said she acquired the firm in response to changes in the healthcare industry, particularly the entry of Amazon, the increased use of data analytics, and customers having more of a say in managing their health.

The Pleasantville, New York, agency will be known as RLA Collective, a Ruder Finn company. President and partner Robin Russo and Alyson O’Mahoney, EVP and partner, will become co-MDs at Ruder Finn. The deal closed on Friday. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Bloomgarden said RLA’s OTC work would complement Ruder’s prescription brand and corporate healthcare accounts and there are no resulting client conflicts. There won’t be layoffs as a result of the deal, she added.

Discussions about the acquisition began in Q4 2017.

"We’ve been in business for more than three decades," said RLA Collective CEO Robin Russo. "Sometimes, as a smaller agency, it can be difficult on both the client side and tactical and strategic side, where we need to be a bigger fish in the pond."

RLA was launched 32 years ago as a PR shop that specialized in consumer products, Russo said. In the early 2000s, it moved into OTC health, beauty aids, and personal health. After that, the firm incorporated social into its services, slowly transitioning it into a market offering.

RLA’s areas of expertise now include research and competitive positioning, creative content development, brand engagement strategies, such as social media marketing, micro-influencers, geo-targeted retailer campaigns, and AI digital advertising, the firm said in a statement.

Its clients have included Cold-Eeze, PediaCare, Sea-Band, Viactiv, and Oxy Acne.

Last year, Ruder launched a healthtech practice within its Bloom internal incubator agency and an analytics tool called Beacon. The agency saw 1% revenue growth in 2017 to $68 million.

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