Wolf Group Taps Barocci To Head Acquisitions

Wolf Group last week said Bob Barocci will lead its efforts to build a new network of integrated marketing communications companies in North America. Wolf Group is also in talks to buy a “midsized” New York shop, sources said. Wolf officials declined comment on the matter.
Barocci, president of Leo Burnett International in the 1980s and more recently president of Arnold Communications in Richmond, Va., takes the post of group executive vice president with Toronto-based Wolf.
“Bob appealed to us because he had built Burnett’s international network when it had one [overseas] office in London,” said president and chief executive officer Larry Wolf. At Burnett, Barocci oversaw the cherry-picking of local shops to fill gaps in the agency’s networks and functioned as an ambassador to new acquisitions. Barocci’s role will be to “maximize the global reach of all our units,” Wolf said. Barocci could not be reached.
Barocci will divide his time between Wolf’s offices in Toronto and Meldrum & Fewsmith, the $121 million Cleveland-based shop Wolf Group bought last year, sources said.
Armed with investment money from Canadian banks, Wolf has been pursuing agency acquisitions in the U.S. with the help of Don Gilbert, managing partner of the Gilbert Farlie consultancy in New York. The strategy, according to Gilbert, is to find independent U.S. agencies which would like to be acquired by Wolf. The group is looking at shops with “minimum revenues of $10 million,” Gilbert said recently. Wolf last fall signed a letter of intent to acquire Boston’s Arnold Communications, but disagreements scuttled talks almost before they began.
An insignificant player in the U.S., Wolf Group agencies claim a combined total of around $200 million in billings from M&F and Wolf offices in Toronto; Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Columbus, Ohio. Clients include Royal Appliances (Dirt Devil), Sealy and Kodak, for which Wolf does some direct marketing. –with Scott Hume