GCI Parent Acquires Atlanta's 360
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GCI Parent Acquires Atlanta's 360

The long awaited marriage between Atlanta-based marketing communications firm 360 thinc and international advertising and public relations company Gray Global Group is going ahead.

Paul Holmes

ATLANTA, February 11—The long awaited marriage between Atlanta-based marketing communications firm 360 thinc and international advertising and public relations company Gray Global Group is going ahead. Grey has announced an agreement to acquire 360, which will be merged with current Grey assets in Atlanta to form the largest integrated marketing firm in the southeast.
 
Grey Advertising formed an alliance with 360 last November to win the BellSouth advertising account, leading to merger discussions. The deal to acquire 360 gives Grey a strong integrated marketing offering in Atlanta and also adds to the already-impressive Atlanta operations of Grey public relations subsidiary GCI Group.
 
Under the leadership of Ken Willis, GCI has been the fastest growing public relations firm in the Southeast over the last eight years and presently ranks as the city’s second-largest public relations firm.  Clients include AFLAC, Home Depot, Six Continents, Recall, Sanofi, Coca-Cola and Georgia-Pacific, while 360 represents major regional companies including Chick-fil-A, Southern Company, Coca-Cola, and Turner Broadcasting.
 
“Grey’s presence in Atlanta foes from having a successful public relations operation to having an even larger PR operation, plus advertising, plus direct marketing,” says GCI president Bob Feldman. GCI will now have public relations revenues of around $16 million in the Atlanta market, as well as a stronger management team.
 
The new Grey Atlanta operation will providing services including media advertising, public relations, strategic planning, sales promotions, graphic design, interactive services, and segmented marketing. Its divisions will include GCI Atlanta (public relations), GCI Interactive, Grey Worldwide (advertising) and Grey Direct.
 
Willis, president of GCI Atlanta, now adds the title of chairman of Grey Global Group/Atlanta.  Joel Babbit, 360’s CEO and co-founder, becomes president and chief creative officer of the combined organization. Mark Goldman, 360’s other co-founder, will serve as president of Grey Worldwide/Atlanta. The 360 team also includes public relations veterans Bob Cohn, founder of Cohn & Wolfe, and C&W veteran Jim Overstreet.
 
“Clients increasingly want sophisticated, integrated solutions to their communications needs,” says Feldman. “By joining with 360, and with Grey Global Group expanding its overall commitment to the Southeast, we will be uniquely positioned to offer companies a truly holistic approach to marketing communications.”
 
He says that while GCI had a broad-based PR offering in Atlanta—including corporate communications, technology, healthcare, and consumer marketing expertise—the addition of 360 gives the firm expertise in some less traditional areas, including promotions and special events.
 
As for 360, it will get access to the GCI and Grey, but Babbit was emphasizing the benefits of the local partnership. “In GCI Atlanta we recognized a partner that is best-in-class in public relations, with an entrepreneurial flair to try new directions,” he says.
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