Bcom3 Consolidates Online Agencies

Ad agency holding company Bcom3 continued the industry-wide trend of consolidating by bringing together two of its largest interactive shops, Giant Step and Novo.

“The merger allows Bcom3 to strategically consolidate two of its major online firms in the U.S. and maximize the value that it brings clients as technology-enabled marketing evolves,” said Bcom3 spokesman Wally Peterson. “Basically, it’s creating a much stronger organization overall.”

But the move is also meant to minimize Chicago-based Bcom3’s exposure to the turbulent online ad market. Other major holding companies like Grey, Interpublic and Omnicom have taken similar steps to shore up their Internet businesses.

Omnicom, for instance, rolled its interests in Razorfish, Organic, Agency.com and other i-shops into a joint venture with Pegasus Partners, called Seneca Investments. In March, Grey pulled Web agency Beyond Interactive under its media arm, MediaCom.

The Bcom3 effort calls for Chicago-based Giant Step to be rolled into Novo’s operations, giving the San Francisco-based agency another office. Meanwhile, Giant Step’s branch office in New York will be integrated with Novo’s presence there, spokespeople said.

The shifts were accompanied by a reduction of the staff by 30 percent, which reduced the combined agency to 222 full-time employees.

The company will continue to be overseen by Novo chairman and chief executive Kelly Rodriques and president Harry Schlough. Giant Step president Steve Weinswig will run the company’s operation in Chicago, with an as-yet-undetermined title and reporting to Schlough.

Peterson said there would not be any changes in the combined client roster as a result of the merger. The two agencies share account work for Procter & Gamble and General Motors, while Giant Step also handles Ralston Purina, Lexis-Nexis and Maytag. Novo’s clients include Orbitz, Continental Airlines and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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