Paid, Owned, Bought & Sold: 'Earned' IPG Unit Golin Acquires Brooklyn Bros.

The Brooklyn Brothers -- a fast-growing independent known for award-winning “paid” and “owned” media campaigns for brands such as NBC and Pepsi -- has been acquired by one of the dominant players in “earned” media, Interpublic public relations division Golin. The deal is significant, because Golin’s goal is to create a new kind of integrated marketing services organization leveraging the art, craft and science of each model to keep brands relevant in a world in which conventional paid media -- you know, advertising -- seems to be waning.

It also marks the first time one of the major holding companies’ PR divisions has acquired a full-service creative shop, which likely will lead to some interesting conversations with other IPG agencies like Deutsch, FCB, Martin and McCann, which also pitch integrated approaches, but which generally lead with conventional advertising models.

Golin’s focus is exactly what attracted TBB, which has had off-and-on conversations with suitors for several years, because it accelerates a direction it has been heading in anyway, and one which its founders believe all of marketing is going to end up with.

That model is about creating brand experiences, usually by starting with big idea creative executions -- usually conventional ads -- and then amplifying them with expanded forms of content, social sharing and more explicit earned models like old-fashioned PR.

To illustrate how that has worked, TBB Founding Partner Jackie Stevenson cited three of the agency’s recent campaigns -- “Inspired by Iceland” for Iceland Tourism, a Super Bowl Web series for Pepsi, and a hybrid paid/owned execution for the English Premier soccer league featuring actor Jason Sudeikis -- because they all begin with a base of conventional ads, but use expanded brand content to make them shareable through social media. While that’s not unusual, it is the core of TBB’s approach, but the agency lacked the resources to scale it globally or by leveraging conventional PR tactics, which attracted it to Golin.

From Golin’s point of view, TBB provides an ability to rapidly create and scale ideas that can be amplified using its earned skills and resources, including a considerable amount of data and science around social amplification and news media.

While TBB will continue to operate as a free-standing unit within Golin, the two organizations will combine their resources to complement each other's service organization, as well as develop new resources, particularly analytics.

Paul Parton, another founding TBB partner, says the agency was already working on new methods for making the earned component of its campaigns as measurable as the paid parts in terms of showing their impact on brand metrics like awareness, consideration, lift and loyalty. He said that process will only accelerate under Golin.

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