DraftDirect buys promotion shop D.L. Blair

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Pioneer U.S. sales promotion agency D.L. Blair Inc. has been acquired by direct marketing agency DraftDirect Worldwide, a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos. Terms were not disclosed.

Privately-held Blair, headquartered in Garden City, N.Y., was founded in 1959 and presently employs 185 professionals in Garden City and at offices in Blair, Neb., and Paris, France. It will operate as a separate unit under existing management led by Tom Conlon, Blair's president since 1972 .

The Blair acquisition is the first outside DraftDirect's direct marketing specialty and was described by DraftDirect CEO Howard Draft as part of a longer-term strategy to offer clients expanded capabilities under the DraftDirect banner.

DraftDirect said Blair had capitalized billings of $143 million in 1996. An Advertising Age ranking of sales promotion agencies, based on 1995 U.S. sales promotion revenue, placed Blair as the ninth largest sales promotion agency in the country with $24.6 million in revenue.

"Both Blair and DraftDirect occupy leadership roles in our respective fields," said Mr. Draft. "Our management styles are similar, And we have a number of clients in common, including Philip Morris, Holiday Inn and American Express."

Blair's Mr. Conlon cited a need for a "greater international presence" to sustain his agency's growth. "The DraftDirect network affords such an opportunity." DraftDirect operates 29 offices in 22 countries and was acquired by Interpublic in early 1996. DraftDirect said 1996 billings reached $763 million.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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