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WPP's OgilvyOne acquires Leopard

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WPP Group's OgilvyOne North America announced last month that it has acquired Leopard, a b-to-b marketing agency located in Broomfield, Colo. The acquisition gives OgilvyOne access to Leopard's b-to-b sales and demand generation product as well as its proprietary digital asset management technology. The companies share IBM Corp. and SAP as clients. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Leopard founder Sherri Leopard remains CEO of the boutique agency, which will operate as an independent unit of OgilvyOne and retain its brand identity. She will report directly to Carla Hendra, president of OgilvyOne and co-CEO of Ogilvy North America. Leopard said the move benefits all parties.

"The coming together of the two companies is the right thing for all of us-for our clients, for Ogilvy and for Leopard," she said.

Shared clients

Both companies have deep expertise with b-to-b brands. "IBM has been a client of ours for 22 years, and a client of Ogilvy's for more than a decade. We've [Ogilvy and Leopard] worked together on and off for years. We're also together on SAP, and we share parts of Motorola."

"We have a lot of b-to-b clients," said Gunther Schumacher, COO at Ogilvy New York. "We bring to bear the expertise of branding. Leopard has always done a great job enabling our clients' sales forces through sales and marketing materials," he said. "Acquiring them brings that capability in-house."

IBM said it is "thrilled" with the acquisition.

"They both have different strengths," said Ann Rubin, director of integrated marketing communications for the software group at IBM Corp. "Their coming together helps our 360-degree marketing efforts. To have the messaging directly feeding the advertising and demand generation will increase our success and [influence] how we talk to customers. To have that coming from one organization makes it even stronger. To me, that's a huge advantage."

She said IBM lobbied for this. "We push our agencies to get together," Rubin said. "We want to get them in the same room. ... Now Leopard gets to tap into huge resources," she added, "and that only helps us. I see great things coming out of this relationship for IBM."

Leopard said that one of the keys to the longstanding relationship between her agency and Ogilvy lies in their complementary approaches.

"We tend to go for the offering: What do they have to sell? How do you differentiate it? Who's the buyer? What's the benefit? We're rooted in the product marketing and sales side of the equation," she said. "They approach it from the brand and the customer experience."

Messaging workshops gained

With this deal, OgilvyOne gains access to both Leopard's proprietary process and its technology: Leopard conducts "messaging workshops" with clients that include the product management and marketing teams.

"It's a disciplined process that looks at the customer: What are their pain points, what are the differentiators that make [the marketer's product] unique in the marketplace and what are the benefits [of the product]?" Leopard said. "That information becomes the backbone of messaging in collateral, channel enablement and the Web."

Schumacher said the acquisition fits neatly into Ogilvy's strategy. Last year, the agency went through reorganization, creating one profit and loss (P&L) organization under the Ogilvy North America umbrella, including traditional ad agency Ogilvy & Mather and direct/interactive agency OgilvyOne. The thinking was to deliver one brand-the Ogilvy brand-not as separate companies but as a total marketing solution to b-to-b clients.

"The Leopard deal is one piece in the puzzle," Schumacher said. "The various reorganizations we've made over the past 12 months all lead to the same story. We want to provide the best solution and not worry about how it affects the P&L. We want to help clients with business and marketing objectives, and we are less concerned with the form the answer takes."

For clients, he said, the Ogilvy-Leopard combination is "a turbo-charged solution."

"One plus one, from a client perspective, really equals three. New solutions will come out of this for clients," Schumacher said.

Leopard said the companies began examining the idea of a partnership two years ago. Last August, that conversation accelerated, she said, because the two companies found they were competing rather than co-operating around a specific client project. After several meetings to discuss the issues, "Both sides walked away and said, `this is worth pursuing,' " Leopard said.

Ogilvy made an offer, and both parties ended up in due diligence. Leopard said that included getting a couple of alternative offers, including one from WPP Group.

While the WPP deal was interesting, the synergy with Ogilvy won out. "Part of what you look at is the raw compensation and the structure of the deal, but you also look at business synergy," she said. "We definitely had that with Ogilvy."

"What we get is global reach," Leopard said. "We get their deep brand wisdom, and we get their research capabilities in terms of what is the customer journey, what are the moments of truth and what content is needed at what stage of the journey? We really have amazing resources now that we can field to address client needs."

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