FWV Buys McKibben Marketing

FWV PubliCom has acquired McKibben Marketing.

The agency purchase provides FWV—a Raleigh, N.C.-based holding company formed following the 2001 merger of Richard French & Associates, West & Vaughan and Wisse Hollman & Co.—entree into the travel and tourism sector. Terms were not disclosed.

“We didn’t have a base of clients that would allow us to compete for large travel and tourism accounts,” said FWV chairman and president Richard French. “[Mc-Kibben president] Ed [Dreistadt] is arguably a guru of travel, tourism and hospitality advertising. His business connections and expertise are invaluable.”

McKibben in Williamsburg, Va., will be folded into West & Vaughan in Durham, N.C.

Dreistadt, whose agency-side credentials include stints at Long Haymes Carr (now Mullen) in Winston-Salem, N.C., and defunct Atlanta shop Burton Campbell, will serve as vice president of travel-related advertising and public relations accounts.

A former vice president of marketing for theme parks Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA, both in Williamsburg, Va., Dreistadt arrives in Ra-leigh with a client roster that includes Colonial Williamsburg’s Education Outreach Initiative, the Williamsburg Outlet Mall and the Newport Hospitality Group.

Those accounts were managed using contract art directors, copywriters, designers and public relations specialists, some of whom will be retained, French said, to work on individual client’s projects.

The McKibben acquisition places FWV (projected 2002 billings of $100 million) on track to become what French calls a “multi-disciplined holding company built around strong individual brands with a major footprint in the Southeast.”

In FWV’s current configuration, RF&A provides public relations expertise; W&V is the advertising arm; and WH&C specializes in sponsorship sales and development. FWV, French said, is in preliminary acquisition discussions with a number of Hispanic agencies based in the Southeast.

“Given the demographics, many of our client companies have a strong interest in reaching the Hispanic market,” said French. “More importantly, when you acquire a company, you acquire people and expertise, which are more important, in some cases, than accounts. With the right people and infrastructure, you can go out and win new business.”