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Rewiring the network

By Aug 01, 2003

Following a dozen years as a staunch independent, Pierce Promotions & Event Management has agreed to a purchase by agency conglomerate Omnicom. The Portland, ME-based firm became part of Omnicom’s event marketing holding group, Radiate, in June.

The acquisition, however, has been in development since April, says Steve Woods, president of Pierce. “But we’re staying in Maine, continuing to operate as Pierce; this new arrangement means great things for the future.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While other agencies may be chafing at network ties (see related story on p. 42), Pierce was eager to join a bigger entity. “This was a great opportunity for us to grow our in-store capabilities long-term,” explained agency CEO Clint Pierce, “I’ve followed the Omnicom companies for several years, and it made sense for us to join [Omnicom's event agency holding company] Radiate because of the autonomy it allows its agencies to maintain.”

Pierce and other Omnicom shops had worked together on campaigns in recent years, he said, and that reassured him that the two cultures would “mesh well.”

Radiate CEO Gary Reynolds agrees. “Omnicom is not a consolidator, so it’s a wonderful environment for entrepreneurs.” Reynolds’ own shop, GMR, was acquired by Omnicom in 1997. While regarded as a stellar integrated marketing shop (GMR was named PROMO’s 2002 Agency of the Year), Reynolds admits they were a “little soft” when it came to in-store events. “We’re excited about Pierce because it’s a wonderful cultural mix with the rest of the Omnicom Group. They’ve nailed retailtainment for Wal-Mart, and that’s a big interest for us” he says.

Pierce, which was ranked 29th in the PROMO 100 published in June, reported 2002 net revenues of $5.9 million. It has approximately 70 employees based in Portland. The firm is one of three agencies contracted to provide retailtainment events in Wal-Mart stores across the country. In addition to GMR, it joins such promotions shops as Alcone, The Integer Group and Tracy Locke Partnership under its new corporate ownership.

The Pierce client list has few redundancies with existing Radiate clients. Both have done work for Unilever and Gillette brands, most notably on the Gillette Venus razor launch and recent brand extension.

Fine-tuning USM&P

In other company developments, Omnicom announced in late June that it had promoted Jason Moskowitz and Mike Napoliello, who were the CEO and president respectively of USM&P. The two executives were made co-chairs of the business, says Omnicom spokesman Michael Berkin. He added, “They have appointed, with our approval, the former CEO of Tracy Locke Partnership, Gary VonKennel, as CEO of USM&P.” TLP and USM&P are sister agencies under the Omnicom corporate umbrella.

USM&P operates outside the Radiate sub-group, and provides strategic and tactical promotion services from its offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Miami, Indianapolis and San Antonio.

The firm has shrunk in recent years, going from more than 400 employees in 2000 to approximately 150 employees today. It last reported revenues in 2000 of $79.7 million; PROMO estimates the shop’s 2002 revenues were less than $63 million.