WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11—WPP Group, parent of Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, has acquired Washington polling firm Penn Schoen & Berland Associates.
PS&B provides a range of services including research-based strategic counsel for corporations and associations, and political polling and strategy. Founded in 1973, the firm employs 81 people across five locations: Washington DC, New York, Denver, Aurora (Colorado) and Houston, and has revenues of $31.5 million last year.
The firm is best known for its work on President Bill Clinton’s successful re-election campaign in 1996, and the election of Sen. Hillary Clinton in New York. More recently the firm worked for New York City Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg in his upset victory over Mark Green. But it also works in the corporate sector, on brand positioning and messaging, and especially helping businesses fend off competitive challenges.  Major corporate clients over the years have included AT&T, Coca Cola, American Express, BP, Novartis and Microsoft.
“Penn Schoen & Berland has been successful in taking the research skills originally applied in the political arena and adapting them to corporate issues including brand identification and enhancement, issues management and executive positioning,” says Howard Paster, chairman and CEO of H&K. “It brings to WPP a strategic consultancy with a built-in research capability. As such it should integrate well with a range of existing WPP capabilities, including ourselves and Burson-Marsteller and the identity and branding firms Brand Union and Landor.”
PS&B will operate independently within WPP as a stand-alone public affairs unit and will continue to be managed by Mark Penn, Doug Schoen and Michael Berland, the three principals. It will continue to do work in both the political and non-political areas.
Says Penn, “We believe that working together with WPP we will achieve tremendous growth, and be able to bring our skills and methods to a broader array of clients and important situations worldwide. We will continue to offer a unique blend of corporate and political services, enabling us to take the best practices from each and meld them into winning campaigns of all types.”