Paul Holmes 22 Mar 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
BOSTON: Andy Coville and John Brodeur, the principals of Brodeur Partners for the past 25 years, have bought back a majority stake in the firm from parent company Omnicom Group, which acquired the firm in 1993. Omnicom continues to hold an equity position in the company.
Brodeur is the second US agency this year to buy itself back from one of the giant holding companies, after MWW was acquired from the Interpublic Group of Companies by its management in January.
“The return to entrepreneurial roots with Omnicom’s support and equity is the best of both worlds for us” says Andy Coville, CEO of Brodeur Partners. “While we invest in new talent and strategies to drive growth and client innovation, we have Omnicom’s involvement and endorsement as we go forward.” She says the two companies have been in discussion for the past 12 months about the structure of the new relationship, and that Omnicom has been supportive throughout.
With its newfound independence, however, the firm will be in a better position to invest in talent. Says Coville, “We were not one of the big three public relations firms in the Omnicom family and we were never going to be able to compete in terms of size or reach. We have to compete based on the quality of our people, and we are now in a position to invest in our people, which is something that can make it difficult to maintain the profit levels a public company expects.
The new Brodeur will also have a new focus and structure. Historically best known for its expertise in the technology sector, the firm has been investing in resources in areas such as healthcare, financial services, social marketing, and social media. The focus in all those areas, according to Coville, will be “relevance.”
“The world is unsettled by economic, global and media upheaval and people desperately need to connect,” says Coville. “But they want to connect to things that matter most – that are truly relevant to them– whether a product, service, brand, cause or idea. The next wave in communications goes beyond changing minds. It’s all about changing behavior,” she adds, “while leveraging a full array of traditional and new media tools to create interaction, community, conversations and most important, measurable action.”
The firm will consist of four business units:
Brodeur Communications, offering integrated branding, marketing, public relations, communications and social media services, including experts from Brodeur Partners and its subsidiary Beaupre.
Brodeur ShiftPositive, dedicated to creating social change programs that advance healthy living, environmental stewardship and other social causes. The group is led by executive VP Rob Gould, the new director of the firm’s Washington, DC, office; executive VP David Zucker, the new director of the New York office; and senior advisor Robyn Castellani.
Brodeur Digital, which will harness social media and other online tools under the leadership of Joe Trippi, one of America’s most influential political strategists, known for his pioneering work in digital and social media.
Brodeur Strategies, providing C-level counsel to transform an organization’s customer experience. This group, led by seasoned executives from Brodeur and its strategic partners, is steeped in brand planning, research, customer segmentation and internal alignment.
The entire senior leadership team, including Mike Brewer, Steve Marchant, Jerry Johnson, Cleve Langton, Renzo Bardetti, and Karen and Andy Beaupre, will remain in place, as will the firm’s international network of partners and affiliates.
Brodeur’s time as an Omnicom agency saw the parent company adopt several different strategies. In its early years, the technology-focused agency grew rapidly, at one time reaching a headcount of around 400 people in North America. But the loss of the IBM business—on which Brodeur was the lead agency—and the dot-com crash led to a significant decrease in headcount, and today the firm has between 100 and 150 people in its US operations.
At various times, Brodeur was aligned with Porter Novelli and partnered with German-based Omnicom agency Pleon (now part of Ketchum).