Core, Hunt Adkins Join O&M Creative ‘Syndicate’

7 Shops Vow to Remain Independent Despite Ties to Global Giant
CHICAGO–The challenge for Hunt Adkins and Core, two of the seven agencies that make up “The Syndicate” network formed by Ogilvy & Mather, will be to hang on to their reputation as independent creative shops despite their new links to the global behemoth.
Core in St. Louis is “fiercely guarding against” a loss of independence, according to agency partner J.C. Dillon. “At the same time, we’re very vulnerable in being so small.”
Seeking a middle ground in that dilemma, seven small agencies across the country have joined The Syndicate, O&M North America’s new secondary network. The arrangement involves no equity exchange, yet gives O&M greater creative firepower and gives the shops the chance to work on some of O&M’s global brands. For Core, said Dillon, that will mean “less pressure to sell out and just take things.”
Besides Core and Minneapolis-based Hunt Adkins, the other shops in The Syndicate are Grant, Scott & Hurley in San Francisco, Pyro in Dallas, VitroRobertson in San Diego, WongDoody in Seattle and Work in Richmond, Va.
Hunt Adkins has already worked with O&M on a project for Dove, and Core has done work for Ford. Other O&M multinational clients include IBM and American Express.
The partnering shops will also have access to O&M’s media and below-the-line capabilities.
HA president Patrick Hunt was initially concerned that joining The Syndicate might undermine the agency brand. “Once we understood that they wanted us to do the work that we have done, it removed our reservations,” he said.
The agencies, which all have billings in the $25-40 million range, also do not surrender equity. “We’ve all had offers to be bought, and we’ve all turned them down,” Hunt said.
The agencies will be compensated on a “pay-as-you-go” fee basis. While they have vowed to remain independent, it is understood that O&M will have “first look” rights to acquire any of the partner agencies down the road. –with Aaron Baar