Publicis Hopes to Be ‘La Diffƒrence’ for Frankel

Maurice Lƒvy made his first bid for Frankel & Co. three and a half years ago, when the marketing services firm wasn’t for sale. When the shop was put up for sale last fall, he tried again and succeeded, giving Publicis S.A. another foothold in the U.S. in an area Lƒvy expects to be increasingly lucrative.
“We do believe the segment of marketing services will grow at a much faster pace” than advertising, Lƒvy said.
Agency founder and chairman Bud Frankel said he received nine bids for his shop, a number that was cut to five after follow-up presentations. Two bidders dropped out.
Frankel would not say if Paris-based Publicis was the high bidder. Price was not an issue, though, he said, since the preliminary offers were all “more than adequate.”
Sources have pegged the selling price at around $150 million. Frankel reported 1998 revenues of $85 million, with growth of about 11 percent last year.
Both Frankel and Lƒvy said their agencies’ stated philosophies–the “Frankel Way” and “La Diffƒrence”–are compatible.
Lƒvy said there would be no imminent changes at Frankel, which, at least for now, keeps its management and name.
“We want to very carefully integrate the agency into our system and respect its culture and what’s made it successful,” Lƒvy said.
Frankel, who tinkered with the idea of taking the agency public a few years ago in an effort to raise capital, said a shop like his has to find additional capital to prosper. “We used to compete with guys like ourselves,” Frankel said of his 32-year-old business. “We’re not competing with those guys anymore.” K