CM Merges With San Diego Shop

Campbell Mithun’s desire to bulk up on the West Coast led to its merger with a smaller Interpublic Group agency in San Diego. Executives said the move was orchestrated by CM, not the holding company.

Phillips-Ramsey, a $100 million shop in San Diego, will take the Campbell Mithun name and work with CM’s service office in Irvine, Calif.

“We needed a way to establish a beachhead in Southern California,” said Les Mouser, CEO of Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis.

CM’s Irvine operation is dedicated to servicing the regional Verizon Wireless account and hasn’t been able to add new business, Mouser said. “We’ve been looking for ways to expand out of that effort, but it was hard with our staff dedicated to working on Verizon,” he said.

Merging with Phllips-Ramsey creates a $130 million operation that will have a better chance to break into the “unique” West Coast market than either unit had on its own, Mouser said.

“[Phillips-Ramsey] is sitting right in the backyard of a lot of major clients,” Mouser said.

Gary Meads, Phillips-Ramsey’s general manager, said the merger will bring the regional agency a more “recognizable [agency] name,” as well as operational and strategic expertise for packaged goods clients such as WD-40 and Bumble Bee Seafoods. Meads and Mouser said they did not see any potential conflicts arising from the merger.

CM’s Irvine office will remain open to handle the Verizon account, and the new office will take Phillips-Ramsey’s space in San Diego.

Meads will lead the West Coast operations as executive vice president/managing director, with Tony Durket as creative director in San Diego. Julie Ward will continue to head the Irvine office as managing director. Joyce Koch will be Irvine’s creative director.

While IPG has been combining shops, merging Mullen with Long Haymes Carr, and possibly getting set to team an agency with The Martin Agency, this merger was Mouser’s idea and later approved by IPG, Meads said.

“While IPG may be interested in some of those top-down [mergers], this was a bottom-up decision between Campbell Mithun and Phillips-Ramsey,” Mouser said.