Dailey Advertising Buys Itself Back From Interpublic After 30-Plus Years

By Patrick Coffee 

Last week, West Hollywood-based creative agency Dailey announced plans to form a new leadership structure after completing a buy-back from Interpublic Group.

Moving forward, the shop will be led by 5 co-partners, all of whom have been working there for several years. They will lead the following disciplines:

  • Jean Grabow, Growth and Operations
  • Brad Johnson, Retail
  • Steve Mitchell, Digital
  • Bill Waldner, Branding
  • Michelle Wong, Consumer Goods

Each of these new partners, with the exception of Wong and Johnson, have spent more than two decades with Dailey. Former president, CEO and fellow 20-year veteran CEO Tom Lehr “elected not to participate in the transaction” and did not respond to our emails regarding the move last month. It’s not clear how much the partners paid IPG, and a holding company spokesperson declined to elaborate.

For a blast from the past, here’s the 1983 New York Times article announcing IPG’s acquisition of Dailey. At the time, the agency had $135 million in annual billings, and it was acquired for 400,000 shares of holding company stock worth around $23 million. Agency founder Peter H. Dailey later left advertising altogether to work in government as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, a counselor to the CIA and president of The Century Council, “a non-profit organization that aims to reduce alcohol abuse.”

Interestingly, Dailey has been fairly quiet about the development, with no announcements on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

We haven’t heard much from the agency since last March, when Lehr confirmed that convicted felon and chronic con man Bill Grizack had worked there as chief strategy officer from 2014 to 2015. At the time, Lehr didn’t say much beyond stating that, “like most of the ad community, we were shocked by the reports of his previous actions.”

A couple of months later, IHOP sent its business from Dailey to Campbell Ewald L.A. following a closed IPG agency review. It had been with the former shop for more than three years.

By its own count, the newly independent agency currently employs 80 people serving such clients as  Nestlé, Dole, Honda Powersports, SoCal Ford Dealers, and LEGOLAND. When the company merged with fellow IPG shop Suissa Miller in 2003, the combined unit listed annual billings of $600 million and employed up to 250.