Draft in talks to acquire event marketing shop

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Draft Worldwide, Chicago, this week is expected to announce it is acquiring event marketing agency Kevin Berg & Associates Marketing in a deal with an estimated value of $15 million to $20 million.

Executives at Draft, a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos., and at KBA declined comment.

BLUE-CHIP CLIENTS

KBA, also based in Chicago, specializes in event marketing efforts aimed at young adults through such venues as bars and nightclubs. Its roster of clients includes blue-chip marketers such as Coca-Cola Co., Audi of America, Nike, General Motors Corp., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Heublein.

Eight-year-old KBA touts itself as the nation's largest "lifestyle trend marketing" agency and claimed 1997 capitalized billings of $120 million. The company has 500 employees and 30 offices in the U.S. and Mexico.

DRAFT EVOLVING

The acquisition continues the evolution of Draft from a direct marketing agency to a full-service marketing operation. Draft's clients include the U.S. Postal Service, Sprint Corp., PrimeStar and Home Box Office.

Draft, led by Chairman-CEO Howard Draft, has grown considerably since Interpublic acquired it in 1996.

Draft's acquisitions in the past two years have included sales promotion agency D.L. Blair Inc., Garden City, N.Y.; ad agency Adler Boschetto Peebles & Partners, New York, since renamed ABP/Draft Worldwide; Marketing Corporation of America, Westport, Conn.; and Lee Hill Inc., a Chicago promotion and general agency.

`WHOLE NEW TWIST'

Draft had worldwide gross income of $141.8 million in 1997, a 15% gain over the previous year, according to Advertising Age figures.

Jack Clarke, senior VP-business services analyst at PaineWebber, said field marketing agencies like KBA provide "a whole new twist on targeted marketing."

"It certainly fits into the client need for integrated multichannel marketing," he added. "This is one of the most significant trends driving the consolidation of marketing services."

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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