Burson Cohn & Wolfe buys creative shop HZ

HZ saw revenues of $23.5 million last year.

NEW YORK: Burson Cohn & Wolfe has acquired creative shop HZ, the WPP firm said on Tuesday morning.  

Karen Zuckerman, founder and chief creative officer, will retain her title and report to Burson Cohn & Wolfe CEO Donna Imperato. HZ CEO and CFO Jerry Zuckerman will become COO of HZ, which will retain its brand.

"They have a lot of equity in the HZ name, so I don’t see any reason to change it," Imperato said.

HZ, which was founded in 1987, is based in Rockville, Maryland, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. With nearly 200 staffers, HZ saw revenues of $23.5 million last year, according to a statement from the firm. Its clients include Hilton Worldwide, Salesforce, and Tishman Speyer’s Rockefeller Center.

"I have been searching for an acquisition for at least four years, maybe five," she said. "I looked at multiple agencies, not all of which had the full capabilities that HZ has."

She added that the acquisition will help BCW meet increased demand from clients for integrated and creative services.

"We have a great team of content and digital people, but we needed an army to meet the growing need for integrated communications," she said. "So this will help us when we need a very high level creative or at scale because some of our clients are giving us large projects that require a large number of people."

Imperato said BCW is looking to make other deals, most likely internationally, but declined to disclose acquisition targets.

Parent holding company WPP brought together Cohn & Wolfe and Burson-Marsteller in late February, forming the third-largest PR firm in the world by revenue with Imperato as its CEO. Former Burson CEO Don Baer began serving as chairman at that time. The combined agency saw 4% revenue growth last year to an estimated $691 million.

In early March, the firm appointed its global leadership group, with Chris Foster, formerly EVP of global business development at Burson, as president of North America, and Laura Eder, most recently North America president at Cohn & Wolfe, as EVP and MD of the region. It also named Scott Wilson as president for Europe and Africa, the region he previously led for C&W.

Late last month, BCW named nine North American market leaders, all reporting to Foster, with each market having its own P&L.

This story was updated on August 14 with quotes from Imperato.

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