ICF combines shops including Olson Engage, PulsePoint into ICF Next

IBM iX veteran John Armstrong will lead the new agency.

FAIRFAX, VA: ICF is bringing together agencies including Olson Engage, PulsePoint Group, and ICF Mostra into a marketing and communications agency called ICF Next, effective in January.

ICF Next will swallow marcomms agency Olson Engage; Olson Digital; loyalty and CRM firm Olson1to1; crisis management and consulting shop PulsePoint Group; and U.K.-based agencies The Future Customer and We Are Vista.  

The combined agency will have revenue of more than $300 million and clients including BMW, Kraft Heinz, Lloyd’s, Luxottica, MillerCoors, Mars, and U.S. and E.U. government agencies.

ICF Next will be led by former IBM iX North American head John Armstrong, who was named EVP and group lead at ICF Olson in September. Within ICF Next, Olson Engage president Bryan Specht will lead a creative engagement group that encompasses PR, advertising, social and brand strategy, and design.

Armstrong said the agencies will not retain their branding.

"There is some great equity in some of the brands that exist and we appreciate there is a transition there," he said. "We are going to market as a single entity with multiple disciplines on behalf of our clients." 

ICF Next will have more than 1,700 creatives, communicators, strategists, and technologists across a dozen offices in North America, Europe, and India. Armstrong said the merger won’t result in layoffs.

"This isn’t about efficiencies; it is about what will fuel our future growth and how we can best serve a more complete set of the needs our clients have," he said.

Armstrong added that the combination is the culmination of "an effort to act, behave, pitch, and deliver as one team for quite a while."

He added that the merged shop will have a full range of capabilities grounded in behavioral insights, creative engagement, and technology. Its services will include content development and distribution, as well as the "traditional services associated with PR agencies," said Armstrong, as well as "some less traditional agency related services in the realm of strategy, change management, employee engagement."

Financial information about to the merger was not disclosed.

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