NEW YORK—Waggener Edstrom Strategic Communications has acquired Maloney & Fox, a New York-based marketing communications firm. Both agencies will maintain their own distinct brands and leadership teams but will join forces to offer clients expanded expertise in creative marketing and consumer branding.
In addition, Waggener Edstrom added Rich Kerlin, a 20-year marketing PR veteran most recently with Hill & Knowlton Los Angeles, as a senior vice president focused on the consumer practice. Kerlin will be responsible for encouraging collaboration between the two firms.
The acquisition marks another step in the diversification of Waggener Edstrom’s business. Still best known for its high-tech expertise, in the past year the Portland-based agency added a biotech practice and brought in executives from APCO and Fleishman-Hillard to launch a public affairs practice.
Says president and CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin, “The complex issues we deal with on behalf of our clients are moving into the mainstream. It’s always been our job to take complex technical information and make it understandable to our clients’ customers, and increasingly that means reaching out to consumers, who are more and more educated and in a position to adopt more and more technology products.”
Maloney & Fox was founded in 1997 and has earned a reputation for creativity in media relations, consumer branding and integrated marketing, including viral and guerilla campaigns, promotions and events. The firm has developed and managed programs for clients such as Duracell, ESPN, Amazon.com, Land Rover and Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol. It has also worked closely with Waggener Edstrom for nearly a decade, starting with the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 95 launch and more recently for MSN, Microsoft’s Internet service.
“Maloney and Fox blends innovation with results and a client-centric discipline that mirrors our own,” said Waggener. “We’ve known, and respected, each other for a long time. But before joining forces, we both looked extensively at other potential partners. Without a doubt, it was the people at Maloney & Fox that made this deal right. They are an ideal fit as a strategic and creative consumer partner for both our existing and new prospective clients.”
Founding partners Brian Maloney and Margie Fox will continue to serve as co-presidents and executive creative directors for their current clients, as well as partnering on Waggener Edstrom’s consumer accounts, including MSN, MasterCard, T-Mobile and Connexion by Boeing. Waggener says the two firms are already partnering on several accounts, and adds, “I think the biggest challenge for them will be not to get overwhelmed, because so many of our people are going to want to tap into their expertise.”
Fox says the cultural fit between the two firms was one reason for the acquisition, after M&F had resisted the advances of other suitors. “And we will be able to tap into an incredible range of resources and expertise they have and we didn’t have. Many big companies who wanted to work with us in the past might have had some hesitation because of our size, but now we have the strategic capabilities and the reach of a major agency.”
In his new role, Rich Kerlin will oversee the management of Waggener Edstrom’s consumer marketing practice, including integration with Maloney & Fox. Kerlin has managed communications programs across diverse categories for companies such as Ford, AOL and the Walt Disney Company. Most recently, Kerlin was managing director at Hill & Knowlton’s sports, automotive and brand marketing unit. Prior to that, he managed a promotions division for Initiative Media and served in publicity and promotions roles at Walt Disney Theatrical Productions.