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Merkle Purchases CFM Direct Database Marketing Agency For Undisclosed Sum


Merkle has announced the acquisition of CFM Direct, a direct marketing agency that specializes in the development of data-driven direct marketing programs for clients in the financial services sector. With the acquisition, privately-held Merkle adds 90 staff members in two offices in Oak Brook, Ill. and King of Prussia, Penn. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Merkle President and CEO David Williams said, “We have been aware of CFM Direct and their outstanding work and reputation for a number of years, and we are extremely pleased to welcome them into the Merkle family. With the acquisition, Merkle is bringing onboard a highly talented and dedicated team that has continued to achieve impressive results for its roster of major financial clients. Merkle continues to see significant opportunity in the financial services sector, and our acquisition of CFM Direct serves to further our capabilities within this key vertical market.”

As the marketing discipline becomes increasingly complex, sophisticated marketers are recognizing the need to marry deep customer knowledge and analytics with traditional creative competencies. “Marketers should look for teams that employ a Left Brain planning philosophy along with jaw-dropping creative skills,” stated Peter Kim, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research’s Marketing and Technology research team in the February 2007 report entitled Help Wanted 21st Century Agency.

“For nearly 20 years, CFM Direct has actively worked to build our reputation by focusing on each client’s unique needs and consistently delivering outstanding results,” said Howard Hamilton, co-founder and CEO of CFM Direct. “We set out a few years ago to search for a partner that would expand the solutions we bring to our clients. Merkle was our clear choice, and the acquisition of CFM Direct is the next step in our evolution. It will also enable our staff to join a larger client-focused company with a great track record, strong corporate culture, and focus on building relationships with major national clients.”

Joe Hoffman, President and CEO, Royal Bank of Scotland National Bank said, “The combination of Merkle and CFM Direct represents a paradigm shift in the direct marketing space. This combined entity represents a new and refreshing approach to direct marketing, one that truly leverages database and analytic capabilities to drive strategies that change customer behavior. The connection between consumer insight and execution is not a ‘nice to have’ in today’s world…it is mandatory for success.”

Patrick Hennessy, Senior Vice President, Commercial Markets Group at Merkle added, “Marketers today face a major challenge when it comes to accessing superior marketing insight and translating that knowledge into high-impact marketing communications programs. Combining CFM’s award winning creative and ‘Think Brand, Act Direct’ approach with Merkle’s database marketing expertise creates a capability that is unmatched in the marketplace.”

“One of the greatest opportunities that this union brings to the marketplace is the unprecedented ability to create and use consumer insight to drive communications that positively influence prospect and customer behavior. As our business has evolved, it has become clear that the use of advanced analytics enabled by data and technology are critical to the development of communications that resonate both emotionally and rationally with the consumer,” added Mike Shutty, President, CFM Direct.

CFM Direct will become part of Merkle’s Commercial Markets group which serves Fortune 1000 clients in the Financial services, Retail, High Tech, Auto, Pharmaceutical, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Telco and Media verticals. Merkle will retain all of CFM’s employees in both Chicago and Philadelphia and will add significant headcount in those locations over the next several years. New York-based investment banking firm AdMedia Partners acted as financial advisor to CFM Direct in the transaction.


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