Burson-Marsteller, National merge

Worldwide pr agency Burson-Marsteller's merger with National Public Relations, a leading Canadian-owned shop, will mean the disappearance of the former's name in this country.The deal announced last Thursday giving Burson a 25% interest in National, comes after several years of setbacks...

Worldwide pr agency Burson-Marsteller’s merger with National Public Relations, a leading Canadian-owned shop, will mean the disappearance of the former’s name in this country.

The deal announced last Thursday giving Burson a 25% interest in National, comes after several years of setbacks in the Canadian operations of the world’s largest pr agency with expected annual revenues of C$288 million.

Luc Beauregard, president and chief executive officer of National, confirms that Burson, ‘was not where they wanted to be’ in Canada and felt that a merger would be the shortest route to a strong presence in Canada.

‘Every time they looked around, it always indicated that National Public Relations is the firm in Canada,’ Beauregard.

He says National benefits from the use of the Burson-Marsteller name abroad.

John Lute, a senior vice-president of Burson in Toronto, says: ‘[Business] peaked a few years back, got smaller and we’re in the process of building it back up again.’

While one insider went so far as to refer to the merger as saving a ‘sinking ship,’ others see it as significant, but less dramatic.

Michael Campbell, president of Marshall Fenn, says he was surprised to see a merger that simply made both companies bigger, rather than broaden the skill sets they offer.

‘It’s the integrated thrust that seems to be best serving clients today,’ Campbell says.

Brian Hemming, executive vice-president and general manager of Jeffery Elliot Communications, says: ‘I think it shows that size in itself is no guarantee of constant success.’