If Chime Communications buys HHCL and Partners it will not be the
first time a PR consultancy has owned an advertising agency, but it
would be an unusual occurrence. Normally it is ad agency groups which,
because of their size, end up as the senior partners in such deals. But
there is no logical reason why this set-up cannot be reversed.
PR arguably has more clout than advertising in the client boardroom
because of its ability to reach non-consumer audiences such as the City,
legislators, pressure groups, and staff. And even in marketing
communications, where PR has historically played second fiddle,
enlightened marketers now recognise the best results are achieved
through a combination of above and below the line techniques.
Many ad agencies have responded by adding on below the line
But, in most cases the result is an agency offering advertising
solutions with a few bolt-on extras, rather than a rounded
Tim Bell’s ad pedigree is as blue-chip as his PR background and, if the
HHCL deal goes ahead, he will have found a highly regarded advertising
partner of roughly equal size. The real test - and this would be an
exceptional achievement - will be to merge the two into a seamless
communications offering without diluting either.