Ogilvy mulls Clarion merger in the UK
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Ogilvy mulls Clarion merger in the UK

Ogilvy PR is aiming to partner more closely with sister WPP agency Clarion as it seeks to boost its flagging presence in the UK. In an exclusive interview with the Holmes Report, Ogilvy Group global CEO Miles Young refused to rule out the prospect that the two agencies would eventually merge.

Paul Holmes

By Arun Sudhaman

Ogilvy PR is aiming to partner more closely with sister WPP agency Clarion as it seeks to boost its flagging presence in the UK.

In an exclusive interview with the Holmes Report, Ogilvy Group global CEO Miles Young refused to rule out the prospect that two agencies would eventually merge.

The Holmes Report understands that discussions surrounding a possible merger have been underway for some time, although one senior Ogilvy source said that the idea had reached a “standstill” recently.

Young, to whom Ogilvy PR global CEO Chris Graves reports, said that Ogilvy PR is not “the strength we should be in London.”

“We have an organic growth strategy but we are also looking at things that might fast-track us,” said Young. “We are already working with Clarion and that partnership is one way to build our business.”

“London is a priority but we are not looking for a conventional acquisition,” added Young, who is based in New York.

When asked whether Ogilvy is aiming to merge with Clarion he said: “I would not rule anything out at all if it made sense. Clarion is a good shop.”

Clarion CEO Gary Fremantle declined to comment. The consumer agency was singled out last year by WPP CEO Martin Sorrell as one of its better-performing agencies in the UK. It’s 2009 revenues have been estimated at approximately £4m.

Young also said that Ogilvy is not currently searching for a replacement for former European MD Ash Coleman-Smith, who departed the agency earlier this year. “Our strategy is to sort out the UK and Russia first,” he said. “Chris [Graves] is very focused on Europe.”

Following Coleman-Smith’s departure, the agency is effectively being headed by senior director Ross Cathcart, who joined from Edelman UK last year.

In a wide-ranging interview, Young also discussed why PR agencies are still finding it difficult to sit at the heart of the client relationship. The full interview, which also includes a thorough analysis of Ogilvy PR’s global expansion plans, will run in the Holmes Report tomorrow.


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