Two of the nation’s foundational fundraising agencies, Russ Reid and Grizzard, are being merged by their parent company, the DAS Group of Companies (DAS), part of Omnicom Group Inc. The new entity will be led by Alan Hall, CEO of Russ Reid. Chip Grizzard, CEO of Grizzard, will become chairman of the new unit.
With headquarters in Pasadena, Calif., the agency will have offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Toronto. The name of the combined agency will be announced at a later date. The Russ Reid website was under reconstruction early today.
Sources told The NonProfit Times that the merger was initiated by Hall and Grizzard who then took it to the parent company’s management.
“Combining Russ Reid and Grizzard will enhance our ability to serve today’s nonprofits, which are seeking solutions that go beyond fundraising. Nonprofits today are facing greater competition for share-of-giving than ever before and, as a result, they are looking for partners who can help them be successful amidst a rapidly changing environment,” said Dale Adams, chairman and CEO of DAS. “By combining these two agencies, we’ll be able to leverage their joint strengths to help nonprofits achieve their goals.”
The consolidation of agencies has been a trend for the past few years as profit margins tighten on direct mail and other fundraising methods. For example, Moore DM Group based in Tulsa, Okla., has been buying agencies for the past few years, some of which had strong sector identities but weak balance sheets. Omnicom also has been accumulating smaller agencies seeking a balance of services and economies of scale.
The merger will combine the complementary resources of two agencies that developed some of the cornerstone fundraising techniques and practices. Information on the size and scope of the combined agencies was not immediately available.
The size and scale of a combined agency will give it the opportunity to shape the future of the field and allow it to forge partnerships with corporate brands as well as media and technology companies, create new ways of giving, and, ultimately, help nonprofit organizations do more good in the world.
“For nearly a century, Russ Reid and Grizzard have been helping nonprofits connect with their supporters in meaningful and tangible ways,” said Hall. “But we know that the world is changing, and changing fast. And in order for our efforts to continue being effective, we are adapting our approach to how we work with nonprofits. As an agency, we are gaining a deeper understanding of motivations, behaviors, data, and trends so that we can identify opportunities and create the right fundraising strategies for our clients,” he said.
“Russ Reid and Grizzard have come together because of a shared calling to partner with nonprofits to change the world,” said Chip Grizzard. “The new agency is committed to finding innovative ways of acquiring donors at scale outside of traditional channels so that our clients can make an even greater impact through the work they are doing,” he said.
“I am committed to building an agency where new thinking and big ideas thrive because nonprofit organizations doing good in the world deserve that,” said Hall.
Gizzard Communications was launched by Claude T. Grizzard Jr. He worked in a lettershop from 1928 to 1933, taking over the business and founding Grizzard Advertising. The agency dipped its figurative toe in fundraising in 1944 with a campaign for The Salvation Army in Atlanta. He formed fundraising consultancy Grizzard and Haas with Beatrice Haas in 1954 and that became the Grizzard Agency with Claude H. Grizzard Sr. running Grizzard Advertising. Chip Grizzard is grandson of Claude T. Grizzard Jr.
Russ Reid, Grizzard and two other agencies – SCA Direct and Changing Our World – were part of a merger that didn’t go through in 2014 when a deal between parent company Omnicom Group and Publicis Group SA fell through. The deal would have created an organization with estimated market capitalization of $35 billion. The publicly traded firms were the world’s second- and third-largest advertising agencies and were to go by the name Publicis Omnicom Groupe. Combined revenue for 2012, according to The Wall Street Journal, was $22.7 billion.