Integration is key to a successful New Year

A busy year draws to a close, but there’s no sign of activity in design letting up, particularly on the merger front. – Of the many deals we’ve reported over recent weeks, few promise to have as great an impact on the future of design as the merger betwee

A busy year draws to a close, but there’s no sign of activity in design letting up, particularly on the merger front.

Of the many deals we’ve reported over recent weeks, few promise to have as great an impact on the future of design as the merger between The Identica Partnership and Tango (see News Analysis, page 8). This is more than a transaction between complementary agencies. It hints at a coming together of two of the marketing services industry’s creative stars, Identica boss Michael Peters and John Hegarty of Tango’s ad agency parent Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and, as such, is one of the most high-profile marriages to date between design and advertising.

Whatever you think of Peters – one of design’s more colourful characters – he’s produced great work since he shot to media fame in the mid-Eighties. He is one of the few players with the experience and passion to run a big design-led consultancy underpinned by creativity.

Though his former consultancy, the publicly quoted Michael Peters Group, hit the skids when he overstretched himself globally in the face of recession, Peters is a firm believer in crossing disciplines to give clients a total through-the-line service. The Tango deal takes Identica’s offer through to point-of-purchase, and it’s my bet that it won’t be long before full-blown retail design is back in Peters’ portfolio as he goes into the big time once again.

There’s even more potential in the BBH connection, however uninvolved in the merged groups Peters reckons the ad agency will be. Though BBH’s shareholding is “passive”, Peters says, the deal allows BBH to bolster its design interests, broadening out its scope. Identica, meanwhile, has the chance to take projects further down the line and to fulfil Peters’ long-held belief that it is better to have deep relationships with a few key clients than to scurry around trying to please a hoard.

But the deal clears the path for greater collaboration between Identica and BBH on integrated campaigns, such as the project they shared for BT’s One 2 One service. And that is where the real strength of the new union could lie. With management consultants posing a threat to some of the bigger identity consultancies, Identica could be positioning itself to fight back, taking clients’ perception of design’s potential with it. It can only be for the good.

On this positive note, I wish you all a happy, integrated Christmas and a hugely successful New Year. This is the last issue of 1998, but we’ll be back on the bookstalls on 8 January 1999. Until then, have fun.

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