Merkley adds chairman in latest step to reorganize

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Merkley Newman Harty's transformation from downtown boutique to Madison Avenue player takes another step this week with a management reorganization that for the first time adds a chairman.

Parry Merkley, 48, now president of the 7-year-old agency, takes the newly created title. He will report to Thomas Harrison, chairman-CEO of Merk-ley's parent, Omnicom Group's Diversified Agency Services. Stephen Harty, 48, currently managing director, takes on the president job.

Merkley has grown from $24 million in revenue on $165 million in billings in December 1998 to $65 million in revenue on $440 million in billings currently. Almost half the revenue increase came from strong client growth -- kicked off by the addition of Mercedes-Benz USA's $100 million account in early 1999. The remainder of the jump in revenue -- about $22 million -- was gained through acquisitions and alliances, as Merkley went on an aggressive buying binge in the last 16 months.

Its latest investment came just last week when Omnicom bought a minority stake in Eisnor Interactive, allying Merkley with the Internet shop. Before that, Merkley merged its Atlanta office with BaylessCronin to bulk up its presence in the Southeast and service major client BellSouth Corp. The agency also allied with healthcare agency Consumer Healthworks, New York, in January.

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