WPP Group buys Tarantula to merge with 141 Worldwide

WPP Group has bought direct marketing agency Tarantula and is to merge it with 141 Worldwide to form the UK’s fifth-largest below-the-line agency.

The merged agency is called 141 and will have 130 staff. Tarantula chief executive Steve Harding will become chief executive of the new agency and report to 141 UK and European chairman Richard Church.

141’s major UK clients are Boeing, HSBC and Kenwood and Tarantula’s client list includes Coca-Cola, Coral and Tetley. 141 holds the global account for British American Tobacco (BAT), which Tarantula works with in several international markets.

Harding says: “It is very rare to find two such sizeable companies with complimentary strengths and there are no potential conflicts within our combined client portfolio.”

141, which was previously a Cordiant Communications subsidiary, lost Allied Domecq’s multi-million pound spirits business in 2003 when the company decided to realign the account into Publicis – a move that sent Cordiant’s shares into freefall and sparked the chain of events which culminated in the group’s &£266m sale to WPP.

Dennis Kerslake, who was 141’s managing director, moved to Publicis Dialog soon afterwards in one of many managerial departures at 141 stretching back several years.

Church, one of the founders of Dialogue Marketing Partnership, was brought in as 141 UK and European chairman in what was perceived as an attempt to strengthen the agency’s grip on the BAT account.

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