Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls, March 4, 2014—Henry Russell Bruce (HRB) and ME&V Advertising + Consulting today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge two of Iowa’s top advertising agencies on April 1. The merger will create a combined company of more than 50 people with offices in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Quad Cities.
Joining the firms brings together Jim Thebeau, CEO at HRB and Steve Erickson, President and Executive Creative Director at HRB, with Bryan Earnest, Partner and President, Jim Infelt, Partner and Creative Director, and Mark Mathis III, Partner and Director of Cool at ME&V. Dee Vandeventer, ME&V partner and director of operations and fundraising, is retiring as a partner at ME&V. She will continue working as a fundraising adviser for the new organization.
The combined agency represents more than 200 clients across 10 states and offers branding, marketing, public relations, and advertising services in healthcare, higher education and banking, corporate communications and nonprofit fundraising. Combined capitalized billings will be around $33 million.
“Business is moving toward more integrated marketing and communications,” said Earnest. “This merger empowers us to better execute traditional and digital communications with clients who need deep expertise and expanded bandwidth to stay competitive in this cluttered marketplace. It also allows us to target prospects outside our current markets.”
The alliance will create one of the largest advertising agencies in Eastern Iowa and the largest fundraising consulting firms in the state with more than $100 million raised for nonprofits (including the recent Cedar Rapids Library 3.0 campaign) over the last 15 years.
“This alliance allows us to leverage skills and talent in ways that will greatly benefit our clients,” said Thebeau. “Key strategic benefits of the merger include accelerated technology and new media integration, increased content development and deployment, and video in cross-platform applications.”
On April 1, 2014, the merger will take place. The new company will not retain either of the existing names. The new organization’s name is “AMPERAGE.” The branding line for the new entity is “Move the Needle.”
“Our new name represents the cross-platform strength of signal or message for any business or organization. We want to forge a powerful connection for clients to energize business growth,” said Mathis. “Today there is no middle ground—you’re either moving the needle or you’re not.”
This alliance of the two well-known agencies brings together high-end strategic marketing, design, video production, crisis communications, research, brand development, public relations, social media, APP development, website building and consulting, search engine optimization, and capital campaign fundraising consulting all under one company banner. “Our shared vision for AMPERAGE is the need to discover the connection between our clients and their audiences, then, what motivates them in ways that can be measured,” said Erickson. Even though a major benefit of merging is economies of scale, the new company is positioning for growth and future expansion.
“We are not planning any down-sizing due to the merger. In fact, if anything, we’ll be hiring,” said Earnest. “We are positioned for growth and we plan to merge with two more agencies in order to accelerate growth and enhance our capabilities.”
According to Infelt, “Marketing is changing so much that new-age agencies need to be able to integrate messaging on all platforms from television to smartphones. If you want to see results, you need to embrace all media and consider your brand and content across all platforms.”