TM Advertising Buys Itself Back From Interpublic Group

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TM Advertising's Jeff Kempf, chief digital officer; Lisa Bennett, chief creative officer; CEO Becca Weigman (seated); Kim Moss, chief media officer; and Tyler Beck, chief strategy officer.
TM Advertising's Jeff Kempf, chief digital officer; Lisa Bennett, chief creative officer; CEO Becca Weigman (seated); Kim Moss, chief media officer; and Tyler Beck, chief strategy officer. Credit: Courtesy of TM Advertising

In a deal led by TM Advertising CEO Becca Weigman, the Dallas-based agency has bought back its independence from Interpublic Group. It had been part of the agency holding company since 2001, when it was called Temerlin McClain and belonged to True North Communications, which Interpublic bought that year for $1.68 billion.

Interpublic declined to comment on the sale. Terms are not being disclosed.

TM's revenue fell 52.9% to $8.0M in 2016, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. At the end of 2015, TM lost one of its signature accounts, American Airlines, with which it had worked for 34 years. Weigman declined to comment on 2016 financials, citing Interpublic restrictions.

All current clients are remaining with the agency. They include Universal Orlando Resort, Community Coffee, American Airlines Credit Union, Texas Rangers and Japan Airlines.

Weigman, who now controls a majority share in the shop, will continue to lead the shop with four other TM executives as part of her management team, including Chief Creative Officer Lisa Bennett, Chief Media Officer Kim Moss, Chief Strategy officer Tyler Beck and Chief Digital Officer Jeff Kempf.

Being an independent, female-owned agency offers "a lot of opportunity for growth," especially because TM is the "only female-owned brand creative agency in Dallas" and one of the few with so many women in leadership roles, said Weigman. It is in the process of being certfied as a Women/Minority Business Enterprise by Texas and the federal government, she said. Certain businesses and government accounts receive incentives to work with certified minority/women-owned businesses.

Even though TM Advertising is now independent, the shop will continue to have access to McCann Worldgroup's international and domestic resources. Weigman said the minority/women-owned business certification will also provide opportunities to partner with McCann and other IPG agencies that are looking for that requirement.

Weigman said being part of IPG did not hinder TM's performance but that independence will help leadership make quicker decisions and create opportunities for employee compensation models that could include profit-sharing.

Weigman said she had to make some administrative layoffs as part of the agency's repurchase. No client-facing positions were eliminated, she said. TM Advertising has appeared on Ad Age's Best Places to Work list.

During IPG's full-year 2016 earnings call in February, Chairman-CEO Michael Roth mentioned forthcoming dispositions of certain assets. More recently, during the analyst portion of the 2017 first quarter earnings call, Roth was asked what type of companies IPG would be selling, and he responded: "These are small agencies that, frankly, they were either losing money or they were not relevant to the offerings of the entity in which they were residing, in geographic regions that were not efficient for us."

Weigman said that comment did not refer to TM, noting that the agency "bought ourselves back from McCann" rather than being sold.

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