Roth Associates Merges With The Observatory

Combined consultancy will operate in 10 cities

After six years of courting, Roth Associates and The Observatory International are tying the knot.

The consultancies, which primarily help marketers search for ad agencies, are merging to create Roth Observatory International. The combined operation will have a presence in 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Hamburg, Warsaw and Johannesburg.

Respective consultancy founders Richard Roth and Stuart Pocock described the marriage as a merger of equals in which staffers and offices will share client relationships, data and knowledge. Recent searches managed by Roth Associates and The Observatory involved brands such as Honda, Sleepy’s, Virgin Media and Samsung.

That said, each executive will continue to focus primarily on his core market. For Roth, that’s the U.S., where he launched his business 26 years ago, and for Pocock, it’s Europe, where he first opened, with co-founder Lucinda Peniston-Baines, in 2006. At Roth Observatory International, each becomes a managing partner with Roth carrying a secondary title of North American president.

In 2007, the two firms struck a 50-50 joint venture to work together on global searches and other types of consulting, such as in the realm of agency compensation. That trial run was particularly fruitful and triggered the desire to deepen the relationship. Also, with global reviews generally more common today, Roth and Pocock see an opportunity to gain share.

Global searches are “increasing,” Roth said. “It’s not the rule. It’s the exception still. But more and more global search is being sourced or initiated by the headquarters of corporations. And procurement is playing a big role in that.”

Pocock further described the number of global and pan-regional searches as significant today, especially compared to six years ago when The Observatory managed just a handful a year. And by operating under a single system, Roth Observatory International aims to work less like a collection of local consultants and more like a “genuine identical offering” across all markets, he added.