OGBE, Tracey Union Sputters

The proposed merger between Tracey/Edwards and OGBE Communications has been abandoned–at least for now.
The Manchester, N.H., agencies intended to form O’Neil Griffin Tracey Edwards & Bodi, a 45-person entity with more than $30 million in capitalized billings [Adweek, Jan. 18]. The original plan was to combine operations by March with no money exchanged.
Although the deal has been called off, executives from both agencies said the reasons to unite–a pooling of resources and talent to attract bigger clients–are still valid.
The proposed merger was based on “many years of friendship and mutual respect,” said Tracey/Edwards official Kevin Tracey. “As we started talks, things got complicated [in terms of] tax issues, legal issues, corporate structure.” In the end, “we didn’t think it would be in the interest of both firms” to do the deal.
“We all assumed it would be a much easier deal than it turned out to be,” said O’Neil Griffin executive vice president Pat Griffin, whose shop, with more than 30 employees, is New Hampshire’s largest. “There were some issues we couldn’t resolve,” including unforeseen potential client conflicts, Griffin said. He declined to elaborate.
Griffin and Tracey are holding out hope that a deal can still be struck, but no plans are currently on the table. Relations between the two executives remain amicable and the shops will look to team up on client projects in the near future, Griffin said.
O’Neil Griffin Bodi, which has dropped Tracey/ Edwards from its name, continues to service such clients as the New Hampshire Sweepstakes Commission, Healthsource and Castle Springs. The agency is also known for supporting local and national political candidates, fashioning ads in 1996 for failed Republican presidential candidate Lamar Alexander.
Tracey/Edwards will retain its name and continue working for clients such as the Massachusetts Bankers Association.