Williams Whittle Set to Buy Goldberg Marchesano

Williams Whittle Associates has agreed to acquire Goldberg Marchesano Partners.

The Alexandria, Va., shop, will absorb GMP’s accounts and nine of its employees, including agency co-founder Norman Goldberg, said WWA president and chief executive officer Rob Whittle. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“In a practical sense, their clients and core people have already transferred here,” said Whittle. “We’ve signed up the varsity.”

Among the first stringers is Rich Park. The Washington, D.C., shop’s creative director will replace WWA cd Walter Brown, who is relocating with his family to Wisconsin. Park is best known for his work on GMP’s National Geographic account.

“Deal or no deal,” said Whittle, “a lot of folks would give their eye-teeth to land a talent like Rich Park.”

Other GMP accounts (estimated billings of $17 million) include the regional business of the PapaJohn’s Pizza and Chili’s Restaurant chains, and Washington, D.C.-based FlavoRx, a manufacturer of flavorings used in children’s medications.

That business, combined with existing WWA accounts including Precision Tune Auto Care in Leesburg, Va., The Atkins Diet and Today’s Contraceptive Sponge in New York, and the Independent Insurance Agents of America in Alexandria, Va., boost the privately held agency’s billings to $57 million.

The two agencies shared creative and media-buying duties on the IIAA account, a relationship that eventually blossomed into the buyout agreement.

Sources suggested GMP went on the block following the retirement of Carole Marchesano who, with husband Norman Goldberg, co-founded the D.C. agency.

When an acquisition deal with another undisclosed shop fell through in February, WWA, which has seen a few of its agency courtships fail, was waiting at the altar.

“Goldberg Marche-sano Partners already had aproposal pulled together,” said Whittle. “We found it to be attractive and we jumped. You can’t sit still in this business. Either you grow or you’re dead.”

Goldberg, whose advertising expertise is in strategic planning, has signed with WWA for the next three years, sources said.