Enjoying Benefits of Healthy Returns

Marketing, May 27, 1999 | Go to article overview

Enjoying Benefits of Healthy Returns


Strong financial markets have resulted in a buoyant PR sector. However, with more government regulation planned, can it last?

There can be little doubt that the biggest news in financial PR over the past year has been the merger of two of the sector leaders, Citigate and Dewe Rogerson. This has created a major force in investor relations and the promotion of financial services.

Unfortunately, we cannot make a proper comparison with its nearest competitor, Bell Pottinger. Group income is believed to be [pounds]30m. However, the company dislikes revealing information about the strengths of its subsidiaries, which range through financial to consumer and sports PR, and has consistently refused to participate in the Marketing league table.

There are shortcomings in the Citigate Dewe Rogerson response,too. In terms of the audiences it targets, the company says 9% is lobbying activity, and the remaining 91% is directed at investors, consumers and business-to-business, combined. However, a year ago both companies reported that they had no work targeted at consumers, and it's reasonable to assume there has been no dramatic change.

For the purposes of the investor audience table, we've assumed that Citigate Dewe Rogerson earns about the same proportion of its income from this as its two halves did before the merger (55.5% overall). This estimate is close enough to confirm the new grouping's domination.

"I think there'll be some client fallout as a result of the merger - in fact,I know there will be," says the chief executive of a rival agency who, in this context, had better remain anonymous. There has certainly been some fallout of management, although it has not necessarily been acrimonious.

Roddy Dewe and Johnny de Uphaugh, who founded Dewe Rogerson in 1969, retired after the deal, and fellow founder Nico Rogerson is expected to follow. Some Dewe Rogerson associate directors announced that they were leaving, but others had"golden handcuffs".

Overall, there has been little criticism of the deal. Most observers acknowledge that it has created a strong international group, with largely complementary skills. The influx of Dewe Rogerson executives is expected to give a tougher edge to Citigate's gentlemanly image. One well-positioned observer notes that, as clients become bigger and more international, so they expect the same of their agencies.

Although there is certainly overlap in terms of what individual financial PR agencies do, the sector divides in two. …

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