Officials with Fitzgerald & Co. here and the local office of McCann-Erickson were finally able to sign off on the deal that brings the former under the aegis of the latter's parent, Interpublic Group of Cos. An agreement in principal was signed late last year after several months of negotiations.
The agency will continue to operate as Fitzgerald & Co., with Dave Fitzgerald as president and chief executive officer and Clisby Clarke assuming the title of chairman. Clarke was formerly executive vice president and general manager at McCann here. Nik Mainthia, from Fitzgerald, will be media director, while McCann senior vice president and media director Jack Arogeti will have a strong role in strategic planning and new business.
The shop begins life anew with $130 million in billings and 156 employees. An additional 22 people who are part of McCann's regional buying group will report directly to management in New York.
Assuming the new agency's creative leadership is Fitzgerald senior vice president and creative director Jim Paddock, who will now be chief creative officer. McCann senior vice president and executive creative director Bob Summers, according to Clarke, is looking at other opportunities within the McCann-Erickson system and will not be part of the Atlanta agency.
Though the agency's original plan was to find "neutral" office space, it now appears McCann staffers will work at Buckhead Plaza, which houses Fitzgerald on the third and fifth floors.
The combined entity is now free to start mining new business prospects. With the shop well over the $100 million mark, Fitzgerald is ready to pursue pieces of business he has been too small to compete for in the past. "Clearly the big change is the depth of resources for our existing clients," he said. "And there will be some enhanced career opportunities for our people. But we can also pursue larger pieces of business. There's that cliche about the $100-million ceiling, but that ceiling is important to a lot of clients, and this deal lets us through."
Among the clients the agency starts with are Aflac Assurance, Airtouch Cellular, CARE, Jerzees Apparel, London International and the Tennessee Valley Authority.