Ackerman McQueen has opened an international division in response to its gaining the consolidated global advertising account of Six Flags.
The global account, previously at Lowe Lintas in Brussels, Belgium, was quietly shifted to Ackerman in October following an individual pitch to the client, agency sources said.
The Six Flags business will add an estimated $20 million in billings to the $60 million domestic account long held by Ackerman.
Six Flags officials could not be reached for comment.
The creation of Ackerman McQueen International is a major development for an agency that has been primarily a regional player since opening in 1939. Despite its size (the fourth-largest agency in the Southwest), Six Flags and the National Rifle Association are its only major national accounts.
Now, using the Six Flags business as an icebreaker, the Oklahoma City-based agency has begun pitching potential clients as a global marketing operation.
Leading the new business effort is Tory Syvrud, 49, former president of Hispanic agency Publicis/Sanchez & Levitan in Dallas. Syvrud said he left the agency in October in a planned transition arrangement stemming from Publicis' purchase earlier this year of SiboneyUSA.
Syvrud said Ackerman McQueen International will group its oversees offices into three areas: Europe, the Americas (Latin America and Canada) and a pan-Asian market that will include Australia.
"We will have full service in all disciplines in each location," Syvrud said. Staffing is being handled on an individual basis with "acquisitions ... not part of the plan right now."
Ten employees have been hired to staff offices in Madrid, Spain; Brussels; and Dallas. Syvrud came aboard in mid-November.
Syvrud said he was introduced to Ackerman chairman and chief executive officer Angus McQueen through mutual acquaintances.
"I had a certain limited perception of the agency," Syvrud admitted, "but I was surprised to find out they are the hidden jewel of advertising in the Southwest. Angus and I found we shared a lot of the vision of what advertising is going to be. We're futurists."
Syvrud, who has also previously worked at Bozell and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, said the opportunity to set up a global network was the chance of a lifetime.
"This greatly expands what I've been doing for the last 15 years in U.S. Hispanic market," he said.