Small Agencies Surprisingly Optimistic About Prospects

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DANA POINT, Calif. (AdAge.com) -- With their community still vibrating from Publicis Groupe's acquisiton of Bcom3 Group,
Photo: Doug Goodman
A couple descends toward the Ritz-Carlton beach on Wednesday.
advertising executives gathered at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for the opening of the 4As 2002 Management Conference today, and much of the patio and corridor buzz was about size -- or the lack of it.

Despite the recent finger-wagging of pundits about the potential dangers of advertising agencies consolidating into a handful of super-powers, many small- and mid-size independent agencies think their chances for growth are better than ever.

$5 million accounts
"There are hundreds of $5- to $10- to $15 million accounts" out there, said Peter Krivkovich, president-CEO of Cramer-Krasselt who will speak at a session titled "Building a Half Billion Dollar Agency in 20 years or less."

Mr. Krivkovich said marketers and agency review consultants have few choices but to turn to independents when conflicts and other issues narrow pitches to four or five shops and

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the field consists of two or more agencies from the holding company giants.

Pending deal
Mr. Krivkovich said his independent network, which is headquartered in Chicago with offices in Milwaukee, Orlando and Phoenix, is close to signing a deal to acquire a California agency and another in New York. Hia shop's clients include Corona Beer, Winn-Dixie Supermarkets and Charter Cable.

Bob Gardner, owner and CEO of independent Gardner, Geary, Coll, San Francisco, said holding companies looking to please Wall Street encourage their branch offices to pitch smaller clients, but a few months later realize they are not going to make the money they need on the account.

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