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With two major acquisitions in the last month, DraftDirect Worldwide is looking for growth overseas by setting itself up as a free-standing direct marketing network.

The aim is to create a worldwide leader in below-the-line advertising, said Chairman-CEO Howard Draft, offering integrated direct marketing, sales promotion, interactive and digital marketing.

"We're interested in being a powerful creative agency that's in all media," he said, although it has no interest in stand-alone traditional advertising.

That strategy is being implemented by an acquisition binge by parent Interpublic Group of Cos. Last week, Interpublic agreed to acquire Marketing Corporation of America, Westport, Conn., parent of direct marketer MCA Marketing Agency and promotion agency Lee Hill Inc., Chicago. MCA Marketing and Hill will become part of DraftDirect, while MCA's consulting and research practices will join Interpublic's Allied Communications Group.


These acquisitions, with $300 million in combined billings, will help boost DraftDirect to more than $1 billion in billings from $700 million, Mr. Draft said.

That's not all.

Earlier this month DraftDirect agreed to acquire Adler Boschetto Peebles & Partners, a New York agency with $135 million in billings and expertise in both traditional advertising and direct. Adler Boschetto will operate as a subsidiary under its existing management. DraftDirect previously picked up D.L. Blair Inc.


In the wake of the domestic acquisitions, industry executives expect DraftDirect to seek additional growth internationally. The agency acquired offices in Brazil and India this year, and more acquisitions are likely.

Interpublic's buying spree hasn't all been for DraftDirect. This month it bought a majority stake in Addis-Wechsler & Associates, Los Angeles, the personal management and production company that represents actors, including Richard Dreyfuss and Jeff Goldblum.

Last month, Interpublic's Coleman Group bought a majority interest in London-based Planet and formed a new package design and brand identity consulting company called Coleman Group Worldwide.

In May, the holding company also opened a sports marketing group with the acquisition of Advantage International, Washington, and a 60% stake in the API Group, London.

Those acquisitions follow a mandate by Chairman Philip H. Geier to expand into areas outside of traditional advertising, including both TV and event production.

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