With its blue-chip corporate clients and its connections to the federal Liberal party, Toronto-based MacLaren Advertising is one of Canada’s largest and most prominent domestically owned advertising agencies. MacLaren’s ties to the Liberals date from the mid-1960s, when Lester B. Pearson was prime minister. The company has created the “No Trouble Gasoline” television commercials for Toronto-based Imperial Oil Ltd. and “The taste that will stop you cold” ad campaign for
Toronto-based Molson Breweries of Canada Ltd. But last week, MacLaren president Anthony Miller announced that the 66-year-old company has been sold for an undisclosed price to New York City-based advertising giant Lintas: Worldwide. Industry analysts estimate that the deal is worth $15 million to MacLaren shareholders.
The sale of MacLaren is the latest in a series of takeovers of prominent Canadian advertising agencies by larger American firms. Last year, Chicago-based Foote Cone & Belding Advertising Ltd. bought Ronalds-Reynolds Ltd. of Toronto. The merged FCB/RonaldsReynolds Ltd. became Canada’s largest ad agency, with 1987 bill-
ings of nearly $180 million.
Lintas: Worldwide will merge MacLaren with its Canadian subsidiary to create a new company called MacLaren: Lintas Inc. Miller said that MacLaren executives will run the agency, which is expected to become Canada’s largest, with annual billings exceeding $200 million. But David Morton, chairman of the Liberal advertising committee, said that the party has had a policy of using Canadian ad agencies. He added that MacLaren had already been selected as part of the advertising team for the next federal election but that the decision is now under review as a result of the sale.
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