Olson Buys Chicago PR Firm, Ups Revenue and Staff

The acquisition will add 45 employees and $7.3 million in revenue to Olson's PR discipline, which is expected to generate $11 million in 2010 revenue-or 18 percent of the agency's total revenue.

Ad agency Olson on Monday announced that it has significantly bolstered its PR discipline with the acquisition of Chicago-based Dig Communications.

Minneapolis-based Olson says that the acquisition-its second within the past six months-enhances its position as one of the 10-largest, full-service marketing agencies in the United States.

The deal was completed November 30 and added 45 employees to Olson's current 320-person work force. Dig's employees will work with the 12 employees who currently reside within the company's PR discipline.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Olson spokeswoman Jennifer Weismann said that the companies' combined 2010 revenue is expected to total $61 million-$11 million of which will be generated by the PR division, and $7.3 million of which is attributed to Dig.

“PR has always been in the fabric of Olson,” CEO Kevin DiLorenzo told Twin Cities Business in a Tuesday morning phone interview. “We have built an incredible PR practice with Olson, and we could have continued to build this one person at a time. But we found an agency doing something with the same kind of spirit and ambition,” so joining forces seemed like a natural progression.

DiLorenzo said that the acquisition aligns with the company's overall mission to become a “leading connection company” in the world. He acknowledges that it's an ambitious goal, but he's confident that it's achievable and firmly believes that bolstering the company's PR practice is a step in that direction.

Dig founder Pete Marino has begun serving as president of the company's recently expanded PR discipline, which will be called Olson PR. All employees from both companies are being retained, and Dig's employees will continue to work from that agency's five existing offices-located in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

DiLorenzo and Marino both said that the borders between different agency disciplines have been blurring for some time-a fact that makes cross-disciplinary agencies more important than ever. Joining forces will enable Olson and Dig to be ahead of that trend as it continues to evolve, Marino said.

Dig brings with it to Olson a variety of big-name clients, including MillerCoors, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, Southwest Airlines, and Harley-Davidson. Olson's PR clients include General Mills, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, and PepsiCo brands Izze Sparkling Juice and Naked Juice.

In June, Olson acquired Minneapolis-based Denali Marketing, which specializes in customer loyalty. The acquisition added a new “specialty discipline,” 100 employees, and close to $28 million in annual revenue. DiLorenzo said at the time that the agency expected to hire 50 employees during the second half of 2010-and Weismann confirmed Tuesday that the Dig acquisition will add to that figure: Olson is looking to add at least three people to its PR discipline, and Dig will hire unspecified number of additional employees.

DiLorenzo said Tuesday that additional acquisitions “could be in the works” but made clear that they would expand existing capabilities rather than add new ones.

In addition to PR services, Olson also offers brand strategy, advertising, interactive, social engagement, design, media, loyalty, and analytics services.