May 29, 2014

Back in the late 80s, I was involved in a multi-billion dollar airline merger. My airline, Western – the top airline in the west, was joining Delta – the major airline of the southeast. At the time, we called it a merger of equals.

I was offered a job reporting to my counterpart at Delta. The same for most of the Western staff, except for our president. He became CEO of the combined airline. Within five years, I could name on one hand the Western staff that had senior positions at Delta.

Why bring this up? Because in marketing we love to wordsmith… to say things that might not be 100% true. Can you really have a merger of equals? Well, the recent failed $35 billion merger of two of the world’s biggest ad agencies, Publicis and Omnicom, shows again that there are very few mergers of equals. Announced last July, the megamerger would have created the world’s largest ad holding company by revenue, combining ad agencies such as BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, DDB, Leo Burnett and TBWA as well as public-relations firms and digital-ad agencies.

When companies merge there is always a battle for positions and power, and someone (or company) will lose. The marketing lesson here: you need to tell the truth to the public and your employees in today’s world of 24/7 news.

One comment

  1. How about AT&T/ Directv
    I dislike both, works for me.


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