*OgilvyOne Acquires the Lacek Group

OgilvyOne Worldwide, New York, a direct and interactive marketing network and unit of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, announced last week that it has acquired the relationship marketing agency The Lacek Group from EDS, Plano, TX.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The Lacek Group, Minneapolis, with more than $40 million in revenue, specializes in the design, development and management of loyalty marketing programs. It originally was part of Neodata Services Inc., an integrated direct marketing company, which EDS purchased in 1998.

OgilvyOne — which has expanded its offerings to provide enhanced relationship marketing capabilities and customer relationship marketing capabilities over the past few years — decided to acquire The Lacek Group because it would “improve our clients’ ability to grow customer relationships, and we find the quality of their thinking to be an exceptional asset,” said Carla Hendra, president of OgilvyOne North America.

Michelle Bottomley, chief relationship marketing officer at OgilvyOne North America and now managing director at The Lacek Group, said, “We’ve recognized that a core aspect of delivering successful CRM and brand-building is loyalty marketing initiatives, because what that does is it takes the brand values down to an individual level. … The Lacek Group offers the best loyalty marketing experience available in the marketplace today.”

In addition, she said, “We’ve found that a lot of the work we’ve done in North America has been very much focused on acquisitions, and some of that is because our clients have a real need to build their business. But what we’ve recognized is that customer relationship development is equally a very important part of the business, and we want to accelerate our development in that area, and one way of doing it is by acquiring The Lacek Group.”

Bottomley said OgilvyOne has worked with The Lacek Group on loyalty programs as one component of its overall CRM strategy for several clients, including Jaguar. OgilvyOne and The Lacek Group also are working on a loyalty program for a new drug from Glaxo Wellcome called Plavix, Bottomley said.

The Lacek Group has won numerous awards for its work, including its role in developing and launching the Starwood Preferred Guest Program for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The program was named the best loyalty program in the hotel category in 2000 by USA Today and by InsideFlyer magazine, and it won five Freddie Awards.

“The Lacek Group is pretty well-known in the travel industry,” Bottomley said. “But our vision is to help them expand beyond travel and to have them get into some of the other categories that have embraced loyalty, such as financial services and retail.”

Peter Brennan, co-founder of Lacek, will act as adviser for the agency transaction but then will hand over Lacek’s day-to-day operations to Bill Baker, a member of the agency’s executive team for the past four years who has been named general manager at The Lacek Group. He will report to Bottomley. Baker will be assisted by Dan Knudsen, client services director, and Mark Weninger, chief creative officer.

Brennan said The Lacek Group had searched for a worldwide marketing partner to complement its services and ensure its continued growth, and decided on OgilvyOne.

“We have worked together well on the transition throughout the past months, and I’m convinced we have the right fit,” he said.

The Lacek Group has 120 employees and offices in Minneapolis; Seoul, South Korea; and Singapore. All employees will be offered employment at OgilvyOne.

Ogilvy & Mather is a subsidiary of WPP Group PLC, the world's ninth-largest agency network, with 1999 billings totaling more than $11 billion.

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