Northlich Sees Bridge to Growth

Northlich has agreed to pick up fellow Cincinnati shop Bridge Integrated Communications to create a single agency with nearly $200 million in billings.

Both shops have business from local marketing heavy Procter & Gamble, and also have common clients in Cincinnati Bell and electronics and communications firm Harris Corp. “There are a lot of synergies with Bridge,” Northlich president and CEO Mark Serrianne said.

A letter of intent has been signed. Terms of the pending acquisition were not disclosed.

The combined shops would keep the Northlich name and claim annual revenue of about $30 million. Peter Schwartz, president and CEO of Bridge, declined through an agency representative to comment on the deal.

The purchase, if approved, would be the first step in Northlich’s plan to pursue strategic alliances and acquisitions as part of a four-year growth plan, Serrianne said. “We are aggressively targeting agencies and new clients in our plan to become a top-50 U.S. agency,” he said.

Part of the attraction to Bridge was the agency’s extensive interactive work. Serrianne noted an integrated campaign the shop did for P&G that included an online program for The Tide Stain Detective from Tide’s Web site which adapted to a Palm Pilot application. “Some of their online work is exceptional,” Serrianne said.

Northlich is not limiting itself to Cincinnati in its acquisition plans. “We are seeking to grow nationally,” he said.

Northlich’s other clients include StarKist and Whirlpool, while Bridge’s roster includes NCR Dirt Devil and Thomson Consumer Electronics.

Northlich began its expansion process in December 1999, when the shop, celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, changed its name and logo from Northlich Stolley LaWarre. At that time, the agency said the changes were designed to build a national presence for the shop.

Northlich picked up a half-dozen new clients last year, including EcoSmart Technologies’ Bioganic brand, Franklin Tenn., Linens ‘N Things, Clinton, N.J., and Speedo International, Nottingham, England. The company’s billings for 2000 were up about 20 percent, Serrianne said.