Increasing Capabilities

MacManus-Kaplan Deal Fills Needs for Both
NEW YORK-When Roy Bostock and Linda Kaplan Thaler met, “it was partnership at first sight,” said Kaplan Thaler. But both executives also had business reasons for agreeing to The MacManus Group’s acquisition of the Kaplan Thaler Group. Firstly, it gives the holding company a broader range of creativity to offer potential clients, said Bostock, MacManus’ chairman and CEO.
“We acquired them for their talent pool,” he said. “Linda [Kaplan Thaler] has world-class musicians, people who write books and movies, and it’s a matter of applying those talents to new clients.”
Bostock said the acquisition would “round out” the strengths of its other holdings, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, which “builds leadership brands” for General Motors’ Cadillac and M&M Mars’ Twix candy bars; and N.W. Ayer & Partners, which develops “human contact positioning” for Continental Airlines and Avon.
Bostock also cited Kaplan Thaler’s development of TV projects for the American Red Cross as an attraction.
Signing with MacManus gives Kaplan Thaler-which will be autonomous-access to functions it lacks, such as media buying and public relations. Kaplan Thaler said she has declined three prospective clients because of her shop’s limited capabilities. The agency lost its prized Toys “R’ Us account this year after the client started a review asking for capabilities it did not have. The shop has nonetheless grown from $20 million to $145 million in two years.
Kaplan Thaler’s biggest account is the Clairol Herbal Essences line from Bristol-Myers Squibb. While DMB&B and Ayer both have Procter & Gamble work, neither handles hair-care products, so the deal will not create any conflicts, Bostock said.
Jim Dougherty, an analyst with Prudential Securities, said another factor was possibly driving McManus’ acquisition strategy: “They need to get bigger and grow with profitable agencies to either perhaps take themselves public or be acquired,” he said.
Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in July, were undisclosed. ƒ