RPA Acquires Pair of Agencies

Rubin Postaer and Associates aims to cast a wider net for clients through the acquisition of two small Orange County agencies.

Joining the independent shop are creative boutique Open Minds in Aliso Viejo, Calif., and marketing-support-services company The Ponzi Group in Trabuco Canyon, Calif. The two have teamed on various projects for more than two years. Now they will operate together as a wholly owned RPA subsidiary under the Open Minds name.

“There’s some equity in the name … and we like the fact that they are their own agency brand with their own culture,” said Bill Hagelstein, executive vice president of RPA in Santa Monica, Calif.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed. The new Open Minds opens this week with $12-15 million in billings and 13 employees—nine from Ponzi, four from Open Minds. Hagelstein said no layoffs resulted from the deal. Plans call for the shop to move soon into new offices in Irvine, Calif.

Hagelstein said the deal lets RPA grow while staying independent. “In light of the inactivity of new business, we had an open mind,” he said. “Why should [non-organic growth] be exclusive to the Omnicoms?”

The expansion also helps RPA diversify a roster dominated by American Honda Motor Co.

Mark Choate, formerly president and creative director of Open Minds, becomes president, director of creative services at the new shop. He reports to Hagelstein. Ponzi president Angelo Ponzi becomes evp, director of marketing services.

Hagelstein said the deal grew out of his experience with several Open Minds employees, particularly Choate and creative director Powell Michael. The three once worked together at Foote, Cone & Belding.

Ponzi and Open Minds have teamed to win accounts such as Allied Domecq Wines and Pacific Capital Bancorp, and had been in merger discussions prior to the RPA deal.

Choate said the financial support and resources from RPA, which had billings last year of $850 million, will help Open Minds compete better. “We’d made it into the finals for four to six pieces of business and couldn’t close the deal,” he said.

Open Minds can offer creative, market research, account planning and media duties without large fees or commissions, Hagelstein said. He added that RPA can benefit from Open Minds’ experience in the food and beverage category, while Open Minds gains access to interactive and direct marketing services.