Media Meltdown

With urban marketing hot, black agencies are the prime targets for aquisitions and mergers

years, and the union just made sense,” recalls Roy, whose client list includes Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and General Mills.

“Dotcom companies want us to help them bring business to their sites, not only through the Web but with traditional media to drive the bulk of the traffic,” she adds. The alliance also includes a partnership with Chicago-based Pinnacle Associates Group, headed by Suzanne Fuller, which offers marketing and community-relations expertise. The new company will adopt the Pinnacle name.

GOING IT ALONE
Of the top five, UniWorld, Oakland, California-based Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA) (No. 6 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list) and The Chisholm-Mingo Group Inc. (No. 4 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list, with billings of more than $ 100.5 million) of New York are still holding their own, for now absent a deep-pocketed, big brother general-market agency. UniWorld, which boasts AT&T, Burger King and Ford among its clients, had a great year, with billings jumping from $ 160.4 million in 1998 to $ 230 million in 1999, putting it in the No. 1 spot on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list.

CHWA, BE’s 1999 Advertising Agency of the Year, had a gangbuster year with $ 61 million in billings, superlative creative for established clients such as Coors and Nissan, and by nabbing new accounts with Silicon Graphics, San Francisco International Airport, Census 2000 and BP Amoco — formerly a Vince Cullers Advertising account (Cullers is No. 15 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list, with billings of $ 10 million). Adds Williams, “This niche was created to give African American agencies an opportunity to share in the revenues of this industry and compete without consistently being knocked out by the long arm of big mass-marketing agencies. These acquisitions and alliances are creating a highly different environment, where media-impacted dollars are used to purchase relationships that cannot be forged by agencies like mine. It definitely makes it more difficult.”

As the alliance virus continues to spread throughout the industry, the question still lurks: is it opportunistic to remain independent? “If your creative is great and a client sees your dedication to the business, then an agency can stand alone,” says Lee. However, Williams, who, in speaking for herself may also express the sentiments of many other minority agencies, says, “Only if you’re a real warrior with true grit, [you don't] mind seeing your blood, smelling your sweat and tasting your tears, can you stay.”

2000 TOP 20 BLACK-OWNED ADVERTISING AGENCIES

 

1998

1999

DTH=”15%” VALIGN=”TOP”>

% CHANGE

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES

779

811

4.11%

BILLINGS *

$ 886.514

$ 1075.61

21.33%

*In millions of dollars, to the nearest thousand.
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