Bozell Back Where It All Started

In the course of over 80 years, Bozell & Jacobs moved past its Omaha, Neb., roots and became a New York-based unit of a global holding company.

The agency is now back where it started: It is a single-office shop in Omaha owned by employees. President Scott Moore sees this as a return to the shop’s true glory days.

“Bozell’s best days were when it was employee-owned and independent,” Moore said. “There was nothing about being part of an intergalactic holding company that was particularly beneficial to the agency.”

Moore is one of four principals who negotiated a buyback of the agency from the Interpublic Group of Cos., following IPG’s acquisition of True North Communications. The buyout and name change—from Bozell back to Bozell & Jacobs—do not affect IPG’s remaining Bozell office in New York. The move had been expected [Adweek, Sept. 10].

Other senior partners on the ownership team are agency veterans Kim Mickelson, who handles interactive, and Robin Donovan, who oversees media. The fourth partner is John Bauer, who joined the shop from Outlaw Innovation in Omaha and will head up new-business efforts.

The buyback involved cash and a percentage of revenue that will continue to be paid to IPG over three years, Moore said.

A return to independence in an age of consolidation represents a move forward for the agency, Moore said. He believes shedding its holding company ties should open up the new-business field for Bozell, as it no longer has to worry about conflicts or territorial concerns with other Bozell offices.

Also, the shop is now free to pursue acquisitions that suit its own needs rather than its parent company’s bottom line. While naming no specific targets, Moore said the agency will chase both full-service and discipline-specific targets.

Bozell endured various ownership and name changes all the way through its 1997 acquisition by TN and TN’s subsequent sale to IPG. During the IPG negotiations, the shop’s creative director, David Moore, left the agency. Rob Mucciaccio filled the top creative role.