Olson, a top name in Minneapolis advertising for more than 25 years, is about to fade away.
The agency known in recent years as ICF Olson will soon become ICF Next under a rebranding effort directed by its parent company, ICF International.
ICF Olson employs more than 300 people in its Minneapolis offices, making it one of the largest marketing firms in the Twin Cities. The ICF Olson creative agency, along with its public relations arm Olson Engage, loyalty and customer relationship management (CRM) business Olson 1to1, and customer experience agency Olson Digital will all still be based in Minneapolis under the ICF Next umbrella.
"Our location in Minneapolis has just been a flagship for us," said John Armstrong, president of ICF Next.
He will lead more than 1,700 ICF Next employees across more than a dozen offices in the United States, Canada, Europe and India when ICF Next officially launches early next year.
Olson has recently been known for its loyalty work for Amtrak, social media posts for Skittles featuring football star Marshawn Lynch and brand work for companies like Target and Bissell. The late John Olson started the Olson agency in 1992 and built it into a creative powerhouse.
Other ICF divisions that will be repositioned as part of ICF Next include PulsePoint Group, an Austin, Texas-based management and digital consulting firm that Olson bought in 2013, Brussels-based communication firm ICF Mostra, and U.K.-based loyalty strategy company the Future Customer and the We Are Vista communications agency, which ICF recently acquired.
Armstrong, who previously worked at IBM and PwC, was named executive vice president and group lead of ICF Olson in September. Armstrong is based in Chicago but will travel frequently to ICF Next's offices, including Minneapolis, he said.
Since Olson was bought by ICF International in 2014 for $295 million, there have been numerous changes at the local firm. In 2016, ICF consolidated Olson and several other recent acquisitions into ICF Olson. Later that year, former President Margaret Murphy left the company and was followed by several other agency leaders. Earlier this year, chief executive Louise Clements also left ICF Olson.
Bryan Specht, whose role was recently expanded to manage the public relations, social media and brand businesses, will still be at the firm. Guy Cierzan, who has led ICF Olson's loyalty and CRM business, will continue to do so while serving as managing director of the Minneapolis ICF Next office and reporting to Armstrong.
Cierzan said the branding changes and further collaboration among once separate agencies is not only advantageous for clients but also a good recruitment tool.
"Talent is such an increasingly important part of our business," he said.
Cierzan said ICF Next will still be supportive of the BrandLab, a nonprofit founded by Olson as a way to connect diverse youth to possible careers in advertising.
The disappearance of the Olson brand name follows a trend of other local agencies that have been swallowed up by large companies. In 2016, global marketing firm McCann Worldgroup announced it would consolidate its Twin Cities offices spelling the end of the legacy Mithun agency, which was rebranded to McCann Minneapolis.
Most of the biggest marketing agencies in the Twin Cities are owned by large holding companies. Last week, Periscope, the area's largest independent agency, announced its sale to Wisconsin printing company Quad/Graphics Inc. for $132.5 million. The Periscope name is currently still intact.