Interpublic to Form New Global Network

22 May 2001

The Interpublic Group of Companies is reportedly planning to consolidate the resources of more than a dozen of its marketing communications agencies into a new global network, titled The Partnership.

Designed to form Interpublic’s third worldwide network alongside McCann-Erickson Worldwide and FCB Worldwide, The Partnership involves agencies such as Deutsch, Lowe Lintas & Partners, Mullen/LHC, The Martin Agency, Dailey & Associates, Initiative Media, DraftWorldwide, Golin/Harris and Suissa Miller. Also included in the plan are agencies Interpublic is in process of acquiring – True North-owned Bozell and Avrett Free Ginsberg.

Between them, the shops destined to join The Partnership account for 70,000 employees and $40 billion in US billings alone. The fate of agencies such as Carmichael Lynch, Campbell-Mithun and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos is as yet uncertain.

The plans have been drawn up by Interpublic ceo John Dooner, who wants to organise the PR, media, advertising and marketing services agencies within the new network into groups. Each of these collectives will be overseen by a ‘group leader’ drawn from the chief executives of member agencies.

In turn, the group leaders will report to a management team of Frank Lowe (chairman), David Bell of True North (chief executive) and Lowe Lintas’s Michael Sennott, who will take up a supporting role.

However, the final number and configuration of these groups is yet to be decided – partly because of uncertainty over how the chain of command will work and also due to hostility between agencies. Commented one insider: “It’s a moving target. One guy will balk at being lumped in with whoever, and it’s got to be re-examined.”

The plans are believed to have been shown to Interpublic’s board last week and will become official in July. However, there appear to be a few creases as yet unironed. Commented one unnamed ceo at an Interpublic agency: “There are a lot of issues here. One is ego. Two is what makes business sense. And three is, ‘How will John Dooner remake Interpublic?’”

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