Breaking down barriers with a creative merger

The announcement of the impending merger between HGV and Felton Communication (see News, page 3) couldn’t come at a better time for them, given that last night Felton Communication won an International Design Effectiveness Award. It’s always helpful when cementing a business deal to be able to demonstrate that you can also do the business.

The consultancy’s revamped tax bill for Lambeth Council in London took the coveted prize in the Idea Print – Consumer category of the Design Business Association’s award scheme, adding another accolade to the London group’s continuing success in the Ideas. Its new partner HGV meanwhile ranks equal 32 in the All Awards chart published in DW’s Creative Survey supplement this week, and equal 14 in the table ranking consultancies according to three years’ performance in the Design Week and D&AD Awards – no mean feat for a tiny team.

Rarely in a merger do you find this amazing blend of skills and reputation, the one partner earning recognition for design that is commercially effective, the other for sheer creativity – significantly, both HGV and Felton notched up an Idea win last year. Few groups can claim such success in proving effectiveness to the business community and impressing their peers with the quality of their visual work.

Then there is the fact that Felton is best known for its public sector work for the likes of local councils and housing associations, while HGV has tended to focus on commercial clients and arts organisations such as London’s Almeida Theatre. Such a diversity of clients suggests that this should be an interesting marriage.

HGVFelton is unlikely to be the only new name to emerge with a familiar ring to it. A couple of other independent groups of renown are actively seeking deals with like-minded businesses, either to extend their repertoire or, in one case involving a retail player, to raise their profile on the high street. Watch this space for developments there.

Of course, mergers are far from new in design. The difference is that, in the case of high-profile consultancies, it is usually a big group that swallows up a creative hot shop in a bid to bolt creativity on to an otherwise strategy-led business, rather than equals coming together. Take WPP Group’s deals with The Partners and Lambie-Nairn or FutureBrand’s with the then Davies Baron.

Change is a good thing for design. It keep ideas moving and it can also help to break down artificial barriers between creativity and business effectiveness. We look to HGVFelton to prove that out-moded view and wish the new team every success in their endeavours.

Latest articles