In a move that foreshadows further consolidation among Interpublic Group holdings, Long Haymes Carr and Mullen merged last week, with the latter's Joe Grimaldi named CEO.
The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., tops the list of shops that could be "reinforced" by either merging with an existing IPG holding or an acquisition designed to expand Martin's geographic reach or depth of service, sources said.
Michael Sennott, deputy chairman of The Lowe Group, Martin's immediate parent within IPG, acknowledged Lowe is looking to expand Martin. However, he downplayed suggestions that Martin will be joined with another IPG shop, such as Suissa Miller, Santa Monica, Calif., which sources pegged as a likely partner for Martin.
Mullen, with a strong creative reputation and below-the-line resources, was seen as a complementary fit to LHC, which is known for its retail ads, Sennott said.
"We'll be able to develop, deliver and create added value for existing clients," said Grimaldi, who believes Mullen will benefit from LHC's media buying capabilities. "In addition, we see more opportunity to be a more significant entity and pitch more significant pieces of business," he said.
Mullen's offices in Wenham, Mass., and Detroit will retain the Mullen name while LHC, in Winston-Salem, N.C., will be renamed Mullen/LHC. The new agency will have $620 million in billings and 500 employees. Steve Zades, LHC CEO, will take an executive post at The Lowe Group. LHC chief creative officer Mylene Pollock was let go, along with director of account services Peter Mitchell.
While both shops had mixed financial results in 2000, Grimaldi insisted that losses—Monster.com and L.L. Bean for Mullen and Winston for LHC—did not prompt the merger. Major clients for the combined shop include General Motors, Nextel Communications, Wachovia, Hanes and Genuity. There are no client conflicts resulting from the merger, Grimaldi said.