Panoramic Communications (US)

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Panoramic Communications was the umbrella name for a marketing services group spun out of core agency Earle Palmer Brown in 2000. At its peak the group was a loose umbrella for a network of marketing services companies, operating more or less independently from each other. The core of the group was New York's EPB Communications. Among the many other companies acquired in a late 1990s buying spree were travel and leisure marketing agency Yesawich Pepperdine & Brown, sales promotions shop Ben Marketing, interactive agency Iliad, management consultancy Michael Allen and graphic designers Munroe Creative Partners. Media agency RJ Palmer, acquired in 1999, bought itself out of Panoramic in 2002, beginning a series of management buyouts that culminated with the shuttering of the Panoramic group at the end of the year. Ben Marketing later joined the O&M portfolio. Advertising Age had ranked Panoramic as the #29 advertising organisation worldwide in 2001 with gross income of $86m and billings of $1.2bn.

Earle P Brown founded the agency that bore his name in 1952. His training was in journalism. During WWII he served in the US Navy's Office of Public Information, where he covered White House press conferences. Later he joined Time as a reporter. He set up Earle Palmer Brown as PR agency, based in Washington DC. A year later, the company got its first big break when it was appointed to handle press duties for the inauguration of President Eisenhower. Demonstrating his political skills, Brown was also given the job of handling Fidel Castro's visit to the US at the end of that decade, and went on to manage the appointments of a string of political figures. In the early 1960s the agency diversified, adding advertising and design departments. In 1962, it won its first big advertising account, for The Washington Post newspaper. A series of other prestigious Washington-based accounts followed.

In 1976, Earle Brown handed over day-to-day control of the agency to son Jeremy ("Jeb") Brown, a former Leo Burnett executive. Brown Jr oversaw a massive expansion drive. The agency tripled its billings between 1976 and 1979, and acquired local design agency Walezy Brown. By 1982, billings had grown to $30m. The agency acquired a local direct mail firm to create Brown Direct, and opened its first regional office, following the purchase of Philadelphia agency Kalish & Rice, renamed EPB/Philadelphia. Other purchases followed including Spiro & Associates and Ensslin & Hall in Florida. By the end of the 1980s, billings had soared to $375m, from just $3m in 1976.

During the 1990s, the agency continued to expand through acquisition, adding a string of regional agencies across all the different marketing disciplines. Finally in 1999, the group restructured itself, forming an umbrella company as a parent holding group for the main Earle Palmer Brown agency, and grouping its collection of regional agencies as EPB Partners. The holding company was initially known as EPB Communications, changed to Panoramic Communications in 2000 after raising funding from West Coast investment company Destination Group. A few months later, Swiss marketing giant PubliGroupe acquired a controlling stake in the business.

However the economic downturn of 2001 hit the group hard, and it began restructuring mid-year in an attempt to stem losses. As part of this, traditional advertising subsidiary Pagano Schenk & Kay was absorbed into Earle Palmer Brown. Jeb Brown resigned as chairman-CEO in early 2002, and was replaced by Mary Baglivo, previously president. Later that year, PubliGroupe announced that it had withdrawn financial support for Panoramic, and wrote off its entire investment in the business after just two years. Shortly afterwards Baglivo also left, joining Arnold Worldwide (and later Saatchi & Saatchi). In 2002, possibly as a result of her influence, Arnold absorbed the staff and business of Earle Palmer Brown's biggest office in Bethesda. The remaining offices were closed down or sold.

Earle Palmer Brown died in 2014 at the age of 92.

Last full revision 22nd December 2017


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