Heidi Hovland to exit DeVries as firm merges with Canvas Blue

The combined agency will use the DeVries Global brand.

Heidi Hovland
Heidi Hovland

NEW YORK: Interpublic Group is merging agencies DeVries Global and Golin subsidiary Canvas Blue, with DeVries CEO Heidi Hovland set to depart at the end of this year.

The combined firms will use the DeVries Global branding. 

The merged agency will be helmed by a regional leadership team that includes Jessica O’Callaghan, regional MD of North America; Andres Vejarano, regional MD for Asia-Pacific; and Helena Bloomer, regional MD for EMEA. Rounding out the firm’s executive team is Loretta Markevics, global MD of creative intelligence; and Colby Vogt, global EVP of business intelligence. Canvas Blue leader Samantha Sackin will serve as deputy MD of North America for the newly combined agency.

The leadership team will report into Interpublic’s Constituency Management Group, said the unit’s chairman and CEO, Andy Polansky.

Both firms were a part of CMG, which contains IPG’s specialty marketing firms across disciplines, including PR, sports marketing, experiential marketing, brand consulting and digital and social media marketing. Aside from DeVries and Golin, CMG’s PR firms include Weber Shandwick, Rogers & Cowan/PMK and Current Global. The unit also includes specialist marketing agencies such as Jack Morton, FutureBrand and Octagon.

DeVries Global will continue to specialize in areas including consumer products, beauty, health and wellness, consumer tech, lifestyle, B2B and retail. The deal is giving the firm additional offices in the U.S., with an expanded footprint in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas. The agency has seven offices outside of the U.S. in Berlin, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore. The deal will give it nearly 100 staffers in the U.S.

"Overall this enhances the firms’ creative and digital capabilities," Polansky said.  

He explained that the merger is not a matter of timing but that the firms’ portfolios seemed like a "perfect fit."

There are no client conflicts associated with the merger. Key clients of the combined entity include Procter & Gamble, Coty, InterContinental Hotels Group, Celebrity Cruises, Zippo, Samsung, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sephora.  

The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed.

Hovland is exiting the firm after five years as global CEO. Her position will not be replaced.

"[Hovland] did an excellent job diversifying the DeVries business and elevating its reputation during her tenure," said Polansky. "[There are] no other layoffs planned, associated with the merger. 

Hovland told PRWeek via email that she is thankful for her time at DeVries and to be leaving the agency in such a strong place.

Under her leadership, Hovland explained, the agency regularly punched above its weight, competing and winning against much larger agencies. 

"This is the right move at the right time, for the agency and for me," she said. "I’m very happy with what I’ve contributed to DeVries and I’m excited about what’s next, either on the agency side or corporate." 

This deal follows IPG’s merger this year of Rogers & Cowan and PMK-BNC

"We will continue to look at opportunities, not so much to merge operations, but to leverage capabilities," said Polansky. "More of our clients are asking for integrated approaches."

The PR firms in CMG posted low-single-digit growth in Q3 on both an as-reported and organic basis, Polansky said.

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