Former FCB Head Named U.S. CEO of Creston

Steve Blamer Joins U.K.-based Holding Company to Pursue Acquisitions in the States

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Steve Blamer, the former CEO of Foote Cone & Belding, has been named the U.S. CEO of U.K.-based marketing-services holding company Creston.
Steve Blamer left Foote Cone & Belding after Interpublic announced plans to merge it with Draft.
Steve Blamer left Foote Cone & Belding after Interpublic announced plans to merge it with Draft.

Founded in 2001 by Don Elgie, Creston fully acquires agencies in cash-and-stock deals. One of its best-known acquisitions is Delaney Warren Knox and Lund, a fully-integrated London-based shop that was part of True North Communications. Until now, Creston's focus has been on U.K.-based agencies; Mr. Blamer is to pursue acquisitions and build out the company's operations in the U.S.

Mr. Blamer, 50, left Foote Cone in June 2006 after its parent, Interpublic Group of Cos., announced plans to merge the global agency network with Draft, a direct-marketing agency. After being introduced to Mr. Elgie through a mutual friend, Mr. Blamer said he was intrigued by the opportunity.

Can't ignore U.S.
"It is a start-up situation," Mr. Blamer said. "Don wants to come into the U.S. because you cannot have a global marketing-services company and ignore the U.S. We hope to make our first purchase here in the next 12 months."

Targets include companies in any discipline in which Creston does not have expertise -- it could be market research, health-care marketing, digital or media planning, Mr. Blamer said, but not buying. "It's too much of a commodity."

Prior to joining Foote Cone, Mr. Blamer was at Grey Global Group, the holding company built by Ed Meyer and now owned by WPP Group. Mr. Blamer started in Los Angeles, and after several years became CEO of Grey in London before returning stateside as president of Grey, New York. Before leaving the company in June 2005, he was CEO of Grey North America.

'Record of success'
"This is a chance to be entrepreneurial," Mr. Blamer said. "I loved what he'd bought and was impressed by Don's track record of success." Mr. Elgie is a veteran marketing-services executive who worked with Maurice and Charles Saatchi, founders of Saatchi & Saatchi, before starting Creston.

Creston's approach differs from that of the big three holding companies -- WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom -- which generally buy agencies and pay management teams earn-outs over several years, thereby gradually owning the entire agency. "We buy 100%, but our deals are cash and Creston stock. At the end of the day, what we are buying is people, and we don't want them to come, get their cash and leave after a few years."
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