McCann-Erickson World-Group, the new management company, consists of seven companies, each focused on a different channel of marketing communications.
The structure is a formalization of McCann's year-old "corridors" strategy, which established independent entities for various disciplines ranging from direct marketing to public relations. Each company operates as a brand separate from the others, with its own chairman-CEO; each also will be responsible for its own bottom line, reporting to the board of WorldGroup.
"The objective is to provide excellence in each one of the core competencies and, as brand needs arrive, bring them together-as opposed to offering them all as a one-stop shop," said John J. Dooner Jr., chairman-CEO of both the WorldGroup organization and McCann-Erickson Worldwide Advertising.
To bolster certain disciplines, McCann acquired Complete Medical Group, a U.K. healthcare communications agency; Rubin Barney & Birger, a Miami-based public relations agency; Louis London, St. Louis, a sales promotion shop; and Barnett Fletcher Promotions Co., a London-based event marketing and sales promotion agency.
The four acquisitions combined represent $300 million in billings and $45 million in revenue. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Louis London and Barnett Fletcher will become part of the Momentum Experiential Marketing Group, headed by Chairman-CEO Mark Dowley. Complete Medical Group will become part of Torre Lazur McCann Healthcare Worldwide, headed by Chairman-CEO Joe Torre. Rubin Barney, renamed Weber/RBB, will become a unit of Weber Public Relations Worldwide, headed by Chairman-CEO Larry Weber.
DIRECT MARKETING AND MORE
Other WorldGroup companies concentrate on direct marketing, brand consultancy and digital media. McCann Relationship Marketing Worldwide, headed by Chairman-CEO Stan Rapp, includes McCann Direct, New York, and Schererteam MRM, Frankfurt. Diefenbach Elkins Brand Equity Group, headed by Chairman-CEO John Diefenbach, includes Diefen-McCann bach Elkins and Davies Baron. Thunder House Online Marketing Communications, led by Chairman-CEO Ira Carlin, includes the combined operations of McCann Online and Thunder House, the digital agency McCann acquired last summer.
The acquisitions bring to 14 the number of companies McCann has acquired since it began to expand marketing operations outside of general advertising in 1996. Those operations now account for nearly 15% of total billings, and McCann projects they will rise, through internal growth and acquisitions, to a third of total billings by 2000.
The plan has the blessing of McCann parent Interpublic Group of Cos., although it does duplicate some of the holding company's structure. Interpublic, which also owns Lowe Group and Ammirati Puris Lintas, has been expanding its offerings in sports and events marketing, direct marketing, and other non-advertising areas.
Interpublic's "assets are the companies themselves. McCann's assets are its global reach," Mr. Dooner said. "I don't think there's a sense of redundancy.