Interpublic Buys Minority Stake in Endeavor Marketing

NEW YORK Interpublic Group has confirmed that it bought a minority stake in Endeavor Marketing Solutions and entered into a consulting agreement with Mark Dowley, who runs the unit of the Endeavor talent agency.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Dowley was unavailable for comment.

IPG said Dowley would work with its marketing services companies and its Foote Cone & Belding ad agency network.

Endeavor Marketing Solutions is the unit Dowley formed with the Endeavor talent agency in October 2003, a month after IPG dissolved the unit he headed, IPG Sports & Entertainment Group. Then IPG COO Chris Coughlin dissolved IPG SEG in effort to consolidate services and cut costs.

Dowley has been in talks for months with various entities, including Omnicom Group and WPP Group, sources said, but in recent weeks he was negotiating exclusively with Omnicom and IPG.

Both holding companies considered Dowley attractive for his ties to American Express, Endeavor Marketing’s largest client.

Sources said Omnicom saw Dowley as a conduit to possibly wresting a piece of AmEx’s marketing account away from either WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, which handles the advertising account, or from IPG’s event marketing agency, Momentum, which handles AmEx’s sponsorships and other business.

IPG considers the deal with Dowley as a means to strengthen its hold on AmEx at Momentum, sources said.

Dowley, 40, has close ties to IPG’s McCann WorldGroup CEO John Dooner, who was a mentor to Dowley for several years. In 1997, Dowley was chairman and CEO of McCann-Erickson’s Momentum Promotion Marketing Group in New York, as it was then called. He continued to rise through the ranks at McCann while Dooner was McCann Erickson’s CEO.

Dooner became chairman and CEO of IPG in March 2000 and by June 2002, Dowley joined the holding company and formed IPG SEG.

Dooner returned to McCann WorldGroup as CEO in March 2003.

Omnicom and IPG representatives were unavailable for comment, as was a rep for American Express in New York.

This story updates an item posted on Jan. 14 with the news that IPG has bought a stake in Endeavor.