Grey Advertising in Talks with Atlanta's 360
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Grey Advertising in Talks with Atlanta's 360

GCI parent Grey Advertising is in talks with Atlanta-based marketing consultancy 360, talks that could end up creating the largest public relations operation in the south.

Paul Holmes

ATLANTA, November 28—The Atlanta office of GCI Group is one of the success stories of the past decade, going from zero to second place in the market in less than a decade and reporting fees for last year of more than $11 million. Now parent Grey Advertising is in talks with Atlanta-based marketing consultancy 360, talks that could end up creating the largest public relations operation in the south.
 
Grey and 360—an integrated agency with extensive public relations operations—are pitching the $120 million BellSouth advertising account together. BellSouth had made it clear it wanted an agency with strong local credentials but 360—which picked up BellSouth’s public relations business in a joint pitch with Porter Novelli earlier this year—lacked the national resources to handle the account alone. Hence the current partnership, although sources say Grey and 360 had been talking before the giant telecom account came along.
 
“We felt we brought something to the table, but not everything needed to win the business ourselves,” according to 360 chairman Bob Cohn. “Our option was not to pitch, or find somebody and do it with them.”
 
Cohn joined 360 last year, after leaving Cohn & Wolfe, which he founded in 1970. Joining 360 as executive vice president at the same time was Jim Overstreet, who had been vice chairman, USA, for Cohn & Wolfe. They became part of a management team led by founder and CEO Joel Babbit—a veteran of McCann Erickson and Chiat Day—and president Mark Goldman.
 
Cohn & Wolfe, which recently closed its Atlanta office, had been in talks to acquire 360 before Cohn’s departure.
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