Next Fifteenís acquisition of M Booth & Associates and Cosmos Capitalís run at Cossette Group are signs that the fabled "green shoots" of economic recovery are finally sprouting in the ad/PR business.
The CEO game of "duck and cover," squeezing every nickel from staffers is over. Alert chiefs are investing for the future now, rather than waiting for a couple of quarters of solid economic news. Note to Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy: Interpublic stock isn't going to trade at $5.60 forever. Give Michael Roth a jingle.
Corporate players like Next Fifteenís Tim Dyson (pictured) are leading the way to better days. Shares of Next Fifteen jumped 10 percent following announcement of the Booth deal yesterday. The well-respected Booth shop, which will remain in the talented hands of Margi Booth, fits nicely with Dyson's goal to transform Next Fifteen from a mainly tech shop (Text 100, Outcast and Bite) into a global consumer powerhouse.
Watch out, WPP's Sir Martin and Maurice. Next Fifteen, itself, dodged takeover bids from British rivals Huntsworth and Chime during the spring.
Up in the Great White North, Cosmos Capital took advantage of the beat-up shares of Cossette Inc. to launch a raid on the owner of PainePR and the U.K.'s Band & Brown. Cosmos is piloted by Francois Duffar, a guy with 35 years of experience who was vice chair & president of Cossette until May. Duffar says he wants a more international and entrepreneurial outlook for Cossette.
The takeover action brightens the dreary landscape of the ad/PR business that has been dulled by news of layoffs, retrenchments and shrinking budgets for too long. Dyson got it right when he said: "Recessions are times when you find out which agencies have a future."