IPG’s Golin buys The Brooklyn Brothers to be at the ‘apex of paid and earned’ media

Interpublic Group’s Golin has snapped up creative agency The Brooklyn Brothers in an attempt to bolster its PR expertise with marketing skillsets steeped in how paid and earned media work together.

The sum of the deal has not been disclosed, though it does span the creative outfit’s offices in the UK, US and Brazil that will see its 130 staff and its Hollywood writing team joint venture form a key part of Golin’s push for larger accounts that aren’t just PR-focused.

To do that, The Brooklyn Brothers will work with Golin on certain accounts as well as play a role in prospecting new business and then pitching for it. In those markets where the agency does not have a presence, it will set up within Golin’s offices as a separate unit rather than spread its members across the different teams. The thinking behind this tactic is that The Brooklyn Brothers can plug its expertise into projects as and when it's needed, something Golin wants to turn into a point of differentiation as shown by the decision to keep the brand name, albeit with a slight tweak to become: The Brooklyn Brothers, a Golin agency.

Founding partners Jacqueline Stevenson, Guy Barnett, George Bryant and Paul Parton (pictured above) will continue to run the business but with expanded roles. Stevenson, who was managing director of The Brooklyn Brothers, is now global managing director, global creative director Barnett is now chief creative officer and Parton will act as global chief strategic officer. David Watson, one of the original London founding partners, will continue to work with the team this year, after which he plans to leave the business.

Golin’s president for EMEA Matt Neale takes on the expanded remit of president of the reshuffled agency’s international business.

“The Brooklyn Brothers was built to deliver ideas that would be written about in the media and get in to culture but when you’re independent it’s hard to do that at scale,” said Stevenson. “Our global clients are increasing and yet we were finding it difficult to service them in many areas because we couldn’t open offices quickly enough… it felt like the smart thing to do when Golin approached us.'

She went on to assert that “all the team’s jobs are safe”.

The agency will operate as part of the Golin group as opposed to the wider IPG business, which could see it compete for accounts with the McCann Group or Lowe business.

Both The Brooklyn Brothers and Golin told their respective teams about the acquisition yesterday evening (17 February).

“If you were starting a global creative agency today, it would look like The Brooklyn Brothers,” said Neale. “They operate at the apex of paid and earned media with an exceptional bench of senior talent that delivers compelling content across multiple platforms. They will be a tremendous asset for our clients.”

That Golin saw the need to buy in that skillset is evidence of just how blurred the lines between PR and marketing are now that a more always-on approach to brand management is needed. Since the turn of the year there have been several similar announcements, with agencies such as Iris, AnalogFolk and Wasserman reorganising internally to make sure they are fit for purpose for briefs that increasingly aren’t after a campaign every quarter.

“Over the last three years we’ve seen the market shift and many of the RFIs we’ve had from marketing clients who traditionally had control of the paid media budgets are increasingly looking to earned and owned to really flex their messaging,” said Stevenson.

“We’ve been thinking about [outside] investment as the next stage for us for some time because I think the industry is catching on to the need for a different approach and there are a lot of advertising agencies buying independent PR businesses in an attempt to do this… we can offer something quite different to the other more traditional advertising groups and really give them a run for their money."