Publicis Buys Its Way West

Riney Spurns IPG, Opts to Join Levy’s Global Network
SAN FRANCISCO – Hal Riney, founder and chairman of Hal Riney & Partners here, expects that joining the Publicis network will give his agency the muscle it has been lacking to better compete for global clients.
Acquiring Riney gives Publicis and its chairman, Maurice Lƒvy, a strong presence on the West Coast and a foothold in Chicago. But the deal, which sources estimated as a $90 million cash bid, was not the only one on the table. Riney, whose shop handles clients such as Saturn, America West and Sprint PCS, said the Interpublic Group in New York was also interested.
“We didn’t want to be another bead in IPG’s necklace,” said Riney, who feels that IPG comes up short in maintaining the quality of the relationships it has with its acquisitions. IPG did not return calls at press time.
“But with the tremendous amount of consolidation going on in this industry, it didn’t make sense to continue as a medium-sized, independent agency in limbo,” Riney said. The shop has lost pitches and turned down “really good” business because it was unable to handle the international duties of some accounts, Riney said, citing Apple Computer as a recent example.
Lƒvy said the deal will allow the agency, which will be known as Publicis-Hal Riney & Partners, to take on international business. “We offer [Riney and its current and future clients] the gateway to the world,” he said.
Riney and agency president Scott Marshall have agreed to stay at the shop for three years, said sources, who added that Marshall’s compensation package with Riney has an incentive attached to the sale of the agency.
Rich Silverstein, co-chairman and creative director at crosstown Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and a former Riney executive, said the deal won’t change the San Francisco ad scene significantly “unless you change the people at Riney, which would be stupid.”
With the Riney deal in the books, Lƒvy said Publicis will now target independent shops on the East Coast in the same way he went after Riney.
“To be a decent player [in the U.S.] and attract good clients, we must reinforce our East Coast presence,” Lƒvy said. Despite speculation to the contrary, he said Riney’s San Francisco and Chicago offices and Publicis/Bloom’s New York and Chicago offices will continue to operate separately.