Zimmerman Plans to Expand in N.Y.

Zimmerman & Partners is in talks to buy out New York-based DiMassimo Brand Advertising, sources said.

And, as previously reported, Zimmerman is also expected to complete a deal to acquire Cliff Freeman and Partners in October.

Should both deals be completed as planned, sources said one consideration is to merge those two operations along with Zimmerman’s New York field office, which has about 30 employees and is housed with sibling Omnicom agency TBWA\Chiat\Day on Madison Avenue.

The negotiations are part of CEO Jordan Zimmerman’s effort to add creative cache and strategic capabilities to his Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based shop, which counts Nissan dealerships as its biggest client and claims about $700 million in billings.

“Both of these guys are very well recognized,” Zimmerman said last week. “They’re what you need when you’re looking to build the next great business-solutions agency.”

He would not discuss specifics of the deals, including the possible merger of DiMassimo and Cliff Freeman. The latter agency won’t likely ink any deal until October, when its contract with previous owner Saatchi & Saatchi expires. A sale before October would require the agency to pay a percentage of the deal to Saatchi [Adweek, July 1].

Mark DiMassimo, 40, president and creative director of DiMassimo, declined comment, and Freeman could not be reached.

Sources said DiMassimo’s age and strategic expertise is a main attraction for Zimmerman. “Cliff is 59 years old,” said one source. “Mark is the future, the guy to run a big agency.”

DiMassimo opened his agency in 1996 after leaving Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, where he was a vp, creative director. His agency’s biggest client is Hotwire, an online discount-travel site.

The shop’s other clients include Island ECN, the Plaza Hotel, Columbia House and Crunch Fitness. In 2000, poking fun at the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? phenomenon, DiMassimo launched a “Who wants to kick a millionaire’s ass?” campaign for Crunch. The winner got free kickboxing lessons and the chance to box a millionaire.

Long considered one of the more creative shops in the U.S., Cliff Freeman handles Quizno’s, Budget-Rent-a-Car, Fox Sports Net, Midas and Mohegan Sun, among others.

Zimmerman reported 2001 revenue of $112 million. In addition to Nissan, the agency works for Mail Boxes Etc., AutoNation USA and Le Meridien Hotels.