Can M&A activity increase portfolio brand press coverage?

Driving engagement and press coverage in a crowded market can be challenging. In the consumer goods sector, though, PR, brand and marketing professionals should be aware of one potentially untapped opportunity: M&A activity. We’ve analysed brands involved with two big recent consumer mergers – Monsanto and Luxottica – to evaluate the knock-on effect of brand coverage generated by acquisitions.

In September last year, it was revealed that pharmaceuticals behemoth Bayer was to acquire Monsanto for $66bn. A few months later, a very different industry saw its own transformative deal, with eyewear giant Luxottica’s intention to merge with French manufacturer Essilor being announced in January. Tracking news coverage of these deals allowed us to see the effect of M&A activity on Luxottica’s and Monsanto’s portfolio brands.

Luxottica owns many household names such as Ray-Ban; Monsanto’s brands don’t have the same public profile, but we expected there to be some uptick in terms of coverage generated across the different sectors. The press is eager to write about mergers in ways which are relatable to a wider audience: for this reason, alluding to consumer-facing brands is an easy way for the media to interpret the deal on behalf of the audience.

So we analysed three portfolio brands from each parent company. For Luxottica, we tracked Ray-Ban, Persol and Oliver Peoples; for Monsanto, the focus was on Asgrow, Seminis and Kruger Seeds. When we saw the results, we weren’t disappointed.

Monsanto press coverage

Monsanto press coverage
Coverage of Asgrow, Seminis and Kruger Seeds between Sept 1-31. (Merger announced Sept 15)

It’s clear that the news regarding Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto led directly to a dramatic upturn in coverage for Asgrow, Seminis and Kruger. The story breaking on the 16th led to 8x more articles mentioning the brands than on the day before. An increase in brand coverage like this presents a great opportunity to capitalise on earned attention, and to be part of a global news story.

Luxottica press coverage

When we analysed brand coverage around Luxottica’s merger with Essilor, the effect was even more dramatic:

Luxottica press coverage
Coverage of Ray-Ban, Persol and Oliver Peoples between Jan 1-31. (Merger announced Jan 16)

Brand coverage of Ray-Ban, Persol and Oliver Peoples increased by 2000% from the previous day. Even though these well-known labels attract more coverage on a day-to-day basis than Monsanto’s portfolio brands, the effect of the merger on media mentions was truly remarkable. For brands, tracking this news coverage and being ready to leverage increased media activity could produce transformative results.

Capitalising on press coverage

It appears that for consumer brands, there is a rich vein of press coverage which could be capitalised upon: namely, M&A activity generated elsewhere within the corporation. The moment of a deal announcement can be useful leverage for broader brand coverage, particularly as deals of a certain size often make the move from the business pages into the main news section of the press.

And the same lesson applies for the parent companies themselves. Where possible, companies should prepare to take advantage of these bumps in publicity to promote their core brand families. All in all, it appears that taking advantage of M&A publicity to boost brand coverage is a strategy which could be considered across different industries.

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