Interpublic Realigns

The massive make over of the Interpublic Group of Cos. unfolded largely as anticipated, with the holding company consolidating its holdings into four main operating divisions. But the saga’s denouement does offer a few notable twists, said sources familiar with the initial plans.

Three of the divisions—McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, FCB Group and The Partnership—will be anchored by a global shop. The fourth, Advanced Marketing Services (formerly Allied Communications Group), consists of shops specializing in below-the-line services such as public relations and event marketing. Also under Advanced is Magna Global, a new media operation IPG plans to launch in September.

In the Southwest, Temerlin McClain in Irving, Texas, will be aligned with WorldGroup, which is anchored by McCann, with executives reporting to WorldGroup chairman and CEO Jim Heekin.

Although some insiders had expected Temerlin and McCann to combine operations, the current “situation and structure is conflict-free,” said Temerlin president David Lyon. “That’s why we remain an independently branded agency.”

Chief among the surprises was the absence of formal titles atop The Partnership, a collection of independent-minded shops anchored by Lowe Lintas & Partners. Its leader, former True North chairman David Bell, was not given the title of CEO, as sources indicated earlier. Similarly, would-be chairman Frank Lowe was reduced to a “contributor” in an IPG statement.

IPG said only that Bell would “oversee” the division and Lowe would be “contributing to The Partnership overall via his commitment to and passion for the creative product.”

Asked to explain, IPG CEO John Dooner said, “Like all plans, they evolve and change.” He declined to comment specifically about Lowe, but did say of Bell, “There’s no question David is in charge.”

Other unexpected twists involved Campbell-Ewald, which initially was believed to be heading to McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, but instead forged a “global strategic partnership” with FCB Group.

On a smaller scale, True North’s Avrett Free Ginsberg, which some had envisioned in The Partnership, landed in WorldGroup.

Also noteworthy, insiders suggested, was the evolution of Bozell. Two years after being reduced to a domestic operation to bolster FCB, it has seen its empire shrink further, with New York remaining as its last stronghold.

Bozell Kamstra offices in Danvers, Mass., and Pittsburgh were folded into Mullen, and Bozell’s $140 million Chicago operation was absorbed by Campbell Mithun. Still in question is the fate of Bozell in Omaha, Neb., and Bozell Kamstra offices in Minneapolis and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Planning for the reorganization began late last year, as Dooner prepared to embark on his first major initiative as CEO. It was months before IPG made a run for True North—a move that resulted in a $1.6 billion acquisition in June.

Still, the TN deal expanded the scope of the mission and, some said, accelerated its course.

As expected, Initiative Media will pick up buying duties from Partnership shops and FCB, with planning chores remaining at the shops and FCB Media Services. Universal McCann remains a separate, standalone media brand.

Two IPG agency heads reached for comment embraced the overall setup, noting that it could spur organic growth.

“At the macro level, the realignment makes a lot of sense. The whole idea is about being able to provide our clients with the depth and breadth of resources they need,” said Mullen president Joe Grimaldi. “The Partnership brings a sense of order to all the independent agencies.”

“What it means for FCB is that we are now part of a vastly stronger holding company,” said FCB chief executive officer Brendan Ryan. “We can attract better people and make acquisitions. It’s just a much stronger company.”