Rogers & Cowan's ITB absorbs Octagon celebrity consultancy First Call

ITB also brought in celebrity product-placement firm Film Fashion in March.

ITB's Emma Gregson
ITB's Emma Gregson

LOS ANGELES: ITB Worldwide, a division of Rogers & Cowan, is absorbing celebrity consultancy First Call, effective immediately.

First Call was previously a standalone organization within Octagon Sports and Entertainment Network, of which Rogers & Cowan is also a part.

Emma Gregson, MD of ITB Worldwide, will oversee the combined team globally, while Michael Jacobson, former SVP and MD at First Call, will lead its U.S. team as SVP. Gregson and Jacobson will report to R&C CEO Mark Owens. First Call founder David Schwab will serve as EVP at Octagon while counseling ITB about celebrity consulting.

The combined team, which will use ITB’s branding, will have more than 40 staffers and offices in London, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC. First Call employed 10 staffers before the merger. Schwab said no reductions are planned as part of the deal.

Gregson said the merger has been in the works since ITB became a part of Rogers & Cowan last year.

"From the moment ITB came into the Rogers & Cowan family last April, there were conversations about how we could create a global agency with best-in-class talent to deliver culturally defining campaigns for our clients," he explained. "Both ITB and First Call had each been already doing it, and it felt like the perfect synergy to come together and continue to do it under one name."

First Call connects companies with celebrities and counsels those brands on how best to use those connections in their marketing efforts.

The merger is the second celebrity-focused agency deal this year involving ITB. At the end of January, Rogers & Cowan merged ITB with Film Fashion, its U.S. celebrity red carpet outreach arm. R&C bought London-based ITB in May 2018.

R&C reported a 5% drop in revenue in 2017 to $32.8 million. At the end of that year, it had 179 staffers globally.

Octagon is a part of IPG’s Constituency Management Group, which also contains PR firms Weber Shandwick, Golin and DeVries, as well as marketing specialist shops Jack Morton and FutureBrand.

Interpublic brought together two other CMG units this month, merging Current Marketing and Creation into a midsize agency called Current Global, which has more than 200 employees in 30 offices globally. Current Global is led by co-CEOs Virginia Devlin and George Coleman, who report to Frank Mergenthaler, EVP, CFO, and chair of CMG.

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