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Indies, Meet ICOM+IN
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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If you have been following us regularly, you have noticed our distaste for media holding companies. We have nothing against the people within those organizations. Sorrell (WPP), Jones (Havas), and Levy (Publicis) have shown that they are first-class leaders and deserve the respect given to them.

But as advocates of small and independent agencies, we believe that they are tipping the scales of competition and quality creative work. We haven't seen a comparable answer for those we champion. We have pleaded and entreated small and indie shops to work together, but haven't found a group of practitioners that thought the same way. 

Until we saw ICOM+IN.

ICOM is based in Rollinsville, CO and touts itself as the largest network of independent agencies. The IN network is based in Paris and believes it is the forerunner of independent shops in Europe. Starting July 15, the two networks will combine to be ICOM+IN, and largest independent agency in the world.


Well, not yet. With billings reaching only US$3.5 Billion, it still cannot compete wallet-wise with the big guys. But we are thrilled that the indie shops now have a viable answer to the holding companies that consistently taunt them. ICOM+IN will serve clients around the world, with ICOM alone the network reports having over 2,000 clients and 87 offices.

"Global capability, local control."

We're not exactly sure how an agency becomes part of the ICOM+IN network, for the membership details are not openly listed. A shop may be required to have several qualifications and, as we would expect, pay some sort of fee to be a member agency.

But as a curious side note, there are only 16 member agencies in the United States.

What do you think? Can this network be the beginning to help independent agencies stay in control? Or are we doomed for AdLand to be consolidated into holding companies?

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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