What to do when your two biggest rivals propose a merger that will displace you as the Big Holding Company Kahuna and make them Number One in Adland by almost any measure? Well, for WPP, the answer is
two-fold. First, have the CEO pooh-pooh the merger as not great strategy and as sort of a crappy deal for Omnicom shareholders (a fair number of whom seem to agree judging from the growing number of
class-action lawsuits in New York that would stop it from going forward). And second, whip out the check book and start buying stuff until you feel better. So far, WPP continues to buy. Since the
merger was announced July 28, WPP and its subsidiaries have purchased outright or invested in 10 different firms. And that’s just the ones that have been confirmed. The ink is probably drying on
other deals yet to be announced. The latest agreement, confirmed today, is research arm Kantar’s acquisition of the Benenson Strategy Group, with offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and
Denver. The company, run by co-founders Joel Benenson and Carl Rossow, ran the research and polling programs for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns. Confirming the deal, WPP noted that
Kantar is the number-two “data investment management network” behind Nielsen. But it aspires to be the “preeminent provider of compelling and inspirational consumer insights for the
global business community.” Translation: After the Publicom merger goes through, it’d be nice to be number one again in something.