Little more than six months ago, Howard, Merrell & Partners bought itself back from the Interpublic Group of Co.s and what better way to celebrate a return to independence than with a whole slew of art awards?
Born in the 1940s, HM&P lived as an independent shop in Raleigh, North Carolina until it attracted the attention of fellow advertising firm True North in 2000. As happens in the agency world, big fish are often gobbled up by bigger fish and within a couple years, HM&P found itself a member of the IPG under the guidance of True North. There, the firm had access to global resources and served as a strategy support service while still handling their own home region clients.
When IPG was in the midst of yet another restructuring in 2006, HM&P saw the opportunity to buy itself back "and we seized it," said CEO Jim Cobb.
Independent once again with the backing of a few agency managers and private investors, HM&P has seen new business growth and artistic accolades. In addition to the agency's 12 Triangle Addys—including "Best in Show"—it has also been awarded a Graphis design award for concept and production values.
Mr. Cobb, however, seemed to take it all in stride. He's enjoying the company's freedom to pair with whichever other agencies they wish and he's focusing on the skills the agency has always been good at. "We start at the inspiration point with clients, understand what the business issues are with products, name them, brand them and take them to market," he said. "That's been a cornerstone for our agency."