Milwaukee-based Hanson Dodge Creative recently announced it is merging with Milwaukee-based Comet Branding. Hanson Dodge chief executive officer Ken Hanson explains the reasoning and the process that led to the merger.
"In 2007 we began a concerted effort to move Hanson Dodge Creative from the local to the national league. We sharpened our unfocused regional positioning, to America's leading active lifestyle agency.
"By 2010, our strategy was bearing fruit. Profits were up and international brands had begun to fill our roster. However, to compete on the national stage we needed to improve our ability to build relationships with the active lifestyle consumer. Our clients have rich stories to tell, and these special consumers are interested in and very loyal to the brands they engage with.
"We needed to expand our social media services.
"It was a simple strategy: seek out the smartest people we can find in social media, invite them to coffee, or – twist my arm – a cocktail. A few phone calls produced a short list. The meetings were lively and informative. It didn't take long before I realized that strong social media experience was elusive.
"Thus, when Comet Branding, a small social media agency with two charismatic leaders and strong marketing skills, expressed interest in working together, we acted quickly. The proposition was simple: let's merge the two firms, give them a percentage of the whole.
"With a little luck we'd build overall equity, strengthen leadership, improve our social media services and everyone wins, including our clients.
"The deal took about three weeks to negotiate.
"The detailed communication plan was implemented in 48 hours: first employees, then clients and then press. The word was out and well-received.
"We now have the charge of integrating our strategic planning and merging two cultures into an agency ready to enable our clients to get their message out through vital social media channels."
Ken Hanson CEO Hanson Dodge Creative 220 E. Buffalo St., Milwaukee