A New Agency Holding Co. Is Born

Interpublic Group of Cos. will soon embark on a sweeping reorganization that consolidates the marketing communications resources of more than a dozen IPG agencies under a new global network calledThe Partnership, sources said.

The effort is no small undertaking, given that it will affect 70,000 em-ployees and a slew of blue-chip, global clients that spend an estimated $40 billion a year on advertising in the U.S. alone.

Nearly every IPG shop not aligned with McCann-Erickson is affected. They include Lowe Lintas & Partners, Deutsch, Dailey & Associates, Mullen/LHC, The Martin Agency, Suissa Miller, Initiative Media, DraftWorldwide and Golin/Harris, to name a few. Even those that have to enter the IPG fold, namely True North’s Bozell and Avrett Free Ginsberg, are accounted for in the new model.

Naturally, TN’s sale to IPG would have to be completed before its properties could be included. That deal is expected to close in late June.

The Partnership would become the third pillar in IPG’s organization, alongside McCann and FCB, which will remain separate global networks.

The proposed plan, engineered by CEO John Dooner, involves pairing IPG’s various public relations, media, advertising and marketing services agencies into streamlined groups.

Sources said the idea was presented to the board last week and is expected to become official in July.

Each group will be overseen by one of the member agency’s CEOs who will function as a “group leader,” with the title of director or managing partner. In turn, those groups will be under the authority of a management team led by Frank Lowe as chairman, TN’s David Bell as chief executive and Michael Sennott, who will move over from Lowe Lintas.

Key elements still must be ironed out: For example, the number of groups as well as the thornier issue of which agencies are grouped together.

“One day Bozell and Mullen are in the group with Deutsch and Avrett, and another they’re somewhere else,” one source said.

The advertising group will likely consist of Deutsch, Bozell, Tierney Communications and Avrett Free Ginsberg. Some believe that The Martin Agency and Mullen—which currently report through Lowe—also will land in that group.

At the top sits Donny Deutsch, a newcomer to the IPG family. One agency executive wondered, “Does that mean we report to Donny now, to Bell or what?”