Marketing Featured Global

WPP acquires sonic branding agency amp, to be integrated into Landor & Fitch

Germany – British multinational advertising and communications holding company WPP has announced the acquisition of global sonic branding agency amp. Said agency will be now integrated into WPP’s brand and design consultancy Landor & Fitch.

The acquisition adds up to the agency’s expertise in delivering immersive brand identities that transform customer and employee experiences and set brands apart in a competitive marketplace.

amp’s expertise will strengthen WPP’s offer in experiential branding and its ability to create high-quality, differentiated, and ownable sound experiences for clients.

Founded in 2009 by Michele Arnese, amp is based in the US, Europe and Asia, with main office hubs in Germany and the US. Its global team of more than 60 people has created award-winning sonic identities for some of the world’s most influential brands, including Mastercard, Mercedes-Benz, Kraft Heinz, Deloitte, Shell, and General Motors.

Speaking on the acquisition, Arnese said that they are excited to join the WPP family, adding that this industry-first move shows the significance of sound as a must-have brand design and experience component. 

“Integrating more closely with Landor & Fitch, true pioneers in brand design and consulting, will give us the opportunity to scale our award-winning Sonic DNA® design framework and our sonic AI platform Sonic Hub within a broader brand identity context. Our global team of creatives, sonic experts, producers, client leads and researchers will team up with Landor & Fitch and WPP to unleash the power of audio, making brands sound better. We are beyond thrilled to begin this new chapter,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Mark Read, CEO at WPP, said, “With the rise of streaming, podcasting and short-form media, audio has become a critical component of the marketing mix. The acquisition of amp enhances our offer to clients, helping them create immersive experiences that engage consumers on a deeper level and drive their competitive advantage.”

Lastly, Jane Geraghty, global CEO at Landor & Fitch, said, “I’m delighted to welcome amp into the fold. The team is truly best-in-class and has effectively defined the rapidly growing sonic branding space with its work on clients like Mastercard and Mercedes-Benz. This acquisition gives us an unparalleled breadth of capability – graphic, digital, motion, physical, product and experiential – and now sonic. It will also help us accelerate our rapidly growing accessible design practice. I’m enormously excited about what we can achieve together.”

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Vividthree to acquire 30% stake in PR firm Elliot Communications

Singapore Immersive media company Vividthree Holdings has announced that it has entered into a definitive conditional sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with one of the leading PR agencies in Singapore and Malaysia, Elliot Communications 

The group will invest S$775,393 in cash for new and vendor shares, acquiring a 30% stake in Elliot & Co. The SPA is expected to be completed by 30 April this year. 

The SPA also details a call option agreement with Elliot & Co., allowing the group to acquire another 21% stake for at least S$1.98m should Elliot & Co. achieve a net profit of not less than S$0.90mbetween FY2023 and FY2025, bringing the latter’s share to 51%.

With the acquisition, Elliot & Co. will help broaden Vividthree’s service portfolio and bolster value for customers. It will likewise complement Vividthree’s core business of digital content production and is in line with its ambition to expand its footprint in the communications industry. 

Moreover, the partnership will enable Vividthree to leverage Elliot Communications’ network and expertise to enter new markets and capitalise on emerging opportunities in Southeast Asia.

“Our partnership with Elliot & Co. will broaden our portfolio of services and reinforce our presence in the APAC region. With this acquisition, we are well positioned to enhance our reputation and build stronger relationships with stakeholders, which will drive value for our shareholders and enable us to better serve our clients,” said Jonathan Zhang, chief executive officer of Vividthree.

Zhang also added that the decision to partner with Elliot & Co. was based on the latter’s commitment to customer satisfaction, remarkable growth trajectory, and shared values.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Foo, founder of Elliot & Co., shared his excitement over further integrating the firm’s services and offering their clients new ways to thrive in the digital era through the acquisition.

“By combining our expertise in media engagement with Vividthree’s proven leadership in content production, we are now able to offer our customers with a comprehensive suite of content management and communications services, providing us with a competitive edge as we move into 2023 and beyond,” he concluded.

Marketing Featured Global

Indie agency Awaken to build performance media expertise via Agnes Media acquisition

Australia – Independent full-service agency Awaken has acquired global digital marketing agency Agnes Media, targeted at building the agency’s performance media credentials in Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom markets.

The acquisition, which is set to be finalised by the end of March, includes the transfer of Agnes Media’s client stable, along with three senior staff members and several contractors who have already moved into the Awaken team.

Agnes Media founder Charlotte Ward will continue as Awaken’s marketing director, working with both teams to ensure a seamless transition. Ward will also launch web 3.0 consultancy Around The Block, a separate entity assisting brands with projects in the blockchain and will work on joint client projects with Awaken.

The acquisition is a first for Awaken and is expected to significantly boost the agency’s Australian team, whilst also strengthening its capability to expand client campaigns in the US and UK.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to enhance Awaken’s existing offering. Agnes has a reputation for extraordinary performance media work locally in Australia and across the US and UK,” said Awaken’s founder and CEO, Chris Parker.

He also added that the acquisition will assist Awaken with bolstering its local performance team, extending its campaigns into the US and UK markets for the agency, and upscaling its team for new client opportunities.

Meanwhile, Ward commented, “This acquisition marks an exciting new chapter for both agencies, as we come together to provide even greater value to our clients. There is a strong synergy between both businesses, culturally and from a media strategy and application perspective. I’ve loved growing the Agnes brand and am excited to see what this acquisition will bring to the market.”

Last year, Agnes Media was also appointed by ‘buy now pay later’ solution ZeeFi as its digital marketing agency.

Marketing Featured APAC

Criteo acquires Brandcrush to provide comprehensive omnichannel solutions for retailers

Singapore – To expand its client capabilities across Asia-Pacific’s retail media market, global commerce media company Criteo has announced its acquisition of Australia-based omnichannel media platform Brandcrush. Through this, Brandcrush aims to offer holistic omnichannel monetization solutions for global retailers whilst helping brands and agencies to discover and acquire omnichannel media from major retailers. 

As retail media provides revenue opportunities, retailers usually rely on emails and spreadsheets to manage packaging, availability, and purchasing of their media inventory. With the acquisition of Brandcrush, global retailers will be given the capability to able to manage a more comprehensive media inventory for both e-commerce and physical retail. 

Furthermore, the acquisition will also serve as support for the advertisers to scale their advertising through the whole omnichannel retail media landscape.

Sherry Smith, general manager of global enterprise at Criteo, said that as marketers prefer investing in retail media, offline is emerging as the new frontier; therefore, brands and agencies must be able to effectively plan, execute, and measure their campaigns in an integrated way.

“Brandcrush directly addresses the current market need for consolidated offline and online advertising management, and our combined solutions will make omnichannel retail media strategies a reality, empowering retailers to own their entire retail media ecosystems,” Smith added.

Teresa Aprile, co-founder and CEO at Brandcrush, commented, “By combining forces, we’re bringing together our platform with Criteo’s best-in-class retail media technology to create the most effective monetization platform for retailers.”

Last year, it can be noted that Criteo announced its plans for its technology and analytics centre to expand its operations across APAC.

Criteo connects marketers with media owners to provide engaging shopping experiences from product discovery to purchase.

Platforms Featured Global

Kargo jumps into CTV adtech via VideoByte acquisition

Sydney, Australia – Omnichannel advertising platform Kargo has acquired connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) platform VideoByte, as part of the former’s mission to deliver differentiated interactions to audiences through various platforms.

With the partnership, VideoByte will be adding innovative CTV advertising technology to broaden Kargo’s offerings to its brand partners and their audiences.

VideoByte will likewise be providing Kargo with access to a large and growing footprint across the television ecosystem and new advertising products to be launched in the next few months to drive immediate innovation to Kargo’s current customers.

“We are thrilled to join the Kargo team and are in lock-step with their mission to develop uniquely differentiated ad experiences that grab attention and drive performance for publishers and brands alike,” said David Naffis, CEO at VideoByte.

He also added that Kargo’s growth, scale, and reputation as market innovator will help accelerate VideoByte’s go-to-market as it continues to push innovating new CTV formats.

Moreover, Naffis will also be joining Kargo as its general manager of CTV.

Harry Kargman, CEO and founder at Kargo, also commented on the acquisition, “Acquiring VideoByte is a clear next step in our growth and evolution. Kargo has been expanding across multiple screens and the Connected TV experience is calling for this kind of ad format innovation and disruption that Kargo has brought to the mobile screen.”

According to Kargman, VideoByte also shares Kargo’s mission and vision to create unique and performant ad creatives through its platforms. 

“With VideoByte, we will bring an amazing Kargo experience to Televisions everywhere and change the landscape with new capabilities while driving massive value and success for both brands and publishers,” Kargman concluded. 

Founded in 2020, VideoByte already has a presence in CTV and OTT with integrations across major media companies including Viacom, Tegna, and LG, amongst others.

Prior to VideoByte, Kargo also previously acquired cloud-based video technology SaaS company Ziggeo to beef up its video offering capabilities.

Marketing Featured South Asia

DEPT enters India, acquires Adobe specialists Tekno Point

London – Global digital agency DEPT has announced its expansion in India with the acquisition of Indian Digital Experience Platform (DXP) services provider Tekno Point. The latter’s 500-strong team of Adobe specialists is expected to accelerate DEPT’s DXP service offering for its global client base.

The team will also be augmenting DEPT’s current engineering capabilities, with plans to double the size of the team within the next 18 months.

As part of the agency, Tekno Point will also be rebranded as Tekno Point/DEPT and will continue to operate under the leadership of Himanshu Mody, founder and CEO, and Yash Mody as CTO.

“Tekno Point’s proven Experience Engineering approach combined with deep Adobe DX expertise empowers enterprise customers to realise faster time-to-market and deliver hyper-personalised experiences across channels,” said Himanshu. 

Philip Cronin, senior director at Adobe Partner Sales APAC, also added that they are looking forward to working closely with the team from DEPT to drive even more success in India.

“India holds enormous potential as a domestic market and is host to a truly world-class talent pool. Our culture is ‘big enough to cope, small enough to care’, and we felt that same connection with Tekno Point when working together on several European and US clients,” Dimi Albers, DEPT’s CEO also explained.

Founded in 2000, Tekno Point has been offering an in-depth understanding of Adobe technology across several industries for clients including IDFC Bank, Tata Capital, Bajaj Allianz, Asian Paints, Rosewood Hotels, and Tata AIA.

On December 2022, DEPT has also launched its 300-person team called WEB3/DEPT targeted at optimising Web3 experiences for its clients.

Marketing Featured APAC

Azerion acquires programmatic agency Hybrid Theory to open new footprint in APAC

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Digital entertainment and media platform Azerion has acquired programmatic agency and trading desk Hybrid Theory, which specialises in mid and lower funnel campaigns.

The acquisition allows Azerion to open a new footprint for the company in the US, and the broader APAC market.

Hybrid Theory’s technology delivers a hybrid approach that connects data intelligence with human nuance, understanding, and creativity, to power smarter advertising across the full customer journey.

Through the acquisition, Azerion will integrate Hybrid Theory’s custom-built technology offering of solutions, hands-on support and independent managed execution. Hybrid Theory’s strength in data will allow Azerion to build and target detailed audience segments, proving effective for brands at acquiring new customers.

In addition, Azerion will strengthen its position in the UK, US, and the broader APAC market to deliver and work with their advertisers and publishers in collaborative and hybrid ways, bridging the gap between in-housing and outsourcing for brands and agencies. 

Umut Akpinaar, co-CEO of Azerion, said, “I am pleased to announce the acquisition of Hybrid Theory by Azerion. This acquisition will provide Azerion with enhanced skills and capabilities to manage advertiser campaign performance. We are confident that Hybrid Theory’s market-leading data capabilities will provide Azerion with the best-in-class technology to power better and smarter data-driven advertising potential to our advertisers and publishers.” 

He added, “As such, this acquisition is a perfect fit to our growing portfolio and we are excited to harness the power of data and create tailored ads to give our audiences the best experience on our platform.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Johnson, CEO of Hybrid Theory, said, “Joining the Azerion Group allows us to continue to deliver on our ambitions through far greater global scale and linkages between our technology and the Azerion platform. Hybrid Theory’s unique capabilities in data now have the addition of proprietary first party data at scale, which coupled with Azerion’s branding capabilities provide an unparalleled linkage with our performance heritage.” 

He added, “At the same time, Azerion’s culture is also a fantastic match of client-focused entrepreneurial thinking to deliver industry-leading results. We are thrilled to be joining the Azerion team.”

Azerion recently announced a tie-up with advertising platform Right Thing Media to allow advertisers to deliver campaigns with social impact messaging inside its portfolio of in-game advertising and high-impact inventory across APAC. 

Marketing Featured ANZ

Indie health communications Bastion Brands now part of Havas Group’s Australian network

Sydney, Australia Integrated communications network Havas Group has recently announced its acquisition of Bastion Brands, one of Australia’s leading independent communications agencies focusing on the health vertical. The buy-out is said to be in line with the group’s continuation of its plans for the APAC expansion.

Newly acquired Bastion Brands is no stranger to Havas. The group’s health-focused division, Havas Health & You (HH&Y), has, in fact, been working with the latter since 2019. 

Bastion Brands will now be integrated into HH&Y and will work closely with partners across the network to integrate its business into projects across the region.

Simon Davies, Bastion Brands’ founder & CEO said, “We are delighted to be joining the Havas family. The strength and momentum within Havas Health & You will help us accelerate our strong growth in Australia. Now with access to and support from the Havas network, we will be able to offer deeper and broader services to clients, globally developed insights and specialised health products, and even more exciting learning and growth opportunities for our staff.”

Yannick Bolloré, chairman and CEO of Havas Group also commented, “Bastion Brands is recognized for delivering significant and meaningful results for its strong client base of leading pharmaceutical companies across the world. Adding its capabilities to our global Havas Health & You network will provide specialised health communications for both that region and our clients globally. Bastion Brands also complements fast growth within our health PR business Red Havas in Australia, and we’re thrilled to officially welcome the Bastion Brands team to our Group.”

“Continuing our work with Bastion Brands is a perfect fit for our expansion in Australia and Asia Pacific – a region where our clients have many strategic opportunities. We have partnered with Simon Davies and his team on meaningful, high-profile client assignments for several years, and have built a strong and effective relationship to deliver outstanding outcomes. This more formal relationship is a natural progression and I know it will be a successful one – for our clients, for Bastion Brands and for Havas Health & You,” added Charles Houdoux, CEO of APAC & LATAM at Havas Health & You

According to Havas, HH&Y has grown at a rate of more than 20% per year in Asia, and the acquisition of Bastion Brands is aimed at strengthening its position in APAC. 

In addition, as a response to rapid regional growth spurred by increased awareness of health and wellness, the network has made significant investments in its Villages and senior leadership to foster growth across the region. This includes the establishment of a regional hub for Southeast Asia and the strengthening of new talent in Japan and China.

Bastion Brands follows companies like Front Networks in China and Frontier Australia, both have been acquired by Havas Group this year together with many business wins by their specialist entertainment communications agency, Organic Pacific, and partnership with Invictus Blue in Malaysia.

Marketing Featured Global

Elon Musk completes Twitter acquisition, starts off with exec firings

Singapore – Months after the initial desire from billionaire Elon Musk to acquire social media giant Twitter in April, the acquisition deal has been finally completed. However, as part of the early moments of the acquisition, Musk has been reportedly firing key executives of the Twitter board.

Reports from the BBC note that while there was no official investor relations announcement posted, an early investor for the company confirmed the deal has been done. In response to the acquisition, Musk posted several tweets to commemorate the deal, including a tweet saying ‘the bird is free’, and a video of him entering the Twitter headquarters–while jokingly bringing a kitchen sink and saying ‘let that sink in’.

Musk also tweeted out a statement directed at advertisers, saying that his motivation in acquiring Twitter was to have a ‘common digital town square’, where a wide variety of beliefs can be shared with one another without resorting to violence.

“There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide in our society”, he said.

Despite the intentions, Musk’s Twitter takeover is marred with issues. Reuters reports that inside sources say that Musk has fired chief executive Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde. Agrawal and Segal, who were present at the closing deal, were later escorted out.

It should be recalled that Agrawal previously said that Musk won’t be joining the Twitter board following his desire to acquire the company.

The Musk-Twitter acquisition deal has been a long one in the making, with Musk previously backing out of the deal in July. In response, Twitter filed a lawsuit against Musk, with the latter finally accepting to acquire Twitter.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Redhill acquires sustainability-focused storytelling firm VS Story to bolster sustainability offerings

Singapore – Full-service global communications agency Redhill has acquired Singapore-based sustainability-focused storytelling company VS Story to further strengthen its sustainability offerings to meet its clients’ rising needs. 

Through the acquisition, VS Story will be extending Redhill’s sustainability arm providing creative visual storytelling solutions centred around social impact and sustainability for the agency and its clients.

Founded in 2016, VS Story champions the global movement toward an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. It has demonstrated a track record in delivering high visibility to important social and environmental issues through impactful visual storytelling.

Moreover, VS Story’s portfolio includes storyboarding, filming, photography, and post-production of various projects such as authentic documentaries, staff engagement videos, visual graphics and animation, infographics, and aerial videography, amongst others. It boasts a partner portfolio that includes Essilor Luxottica, Danone, PayPal, and MAS Holdings, as well as Winnow Solutions, and Linkedin, amongst others.

Jacob Puthenparambil, CEO of Redhill, commented that Redhill puts sustainability at the core of their business strategy, and they are delighted to have VS Story join their team, as it has an outstanding track record of producing sustainability-led visionary impactful initiatives.

“I am confident that together we’re in a stronger position to help our clients develop creative communications strategies that deliver on their commitments to their stakeholders,” said Puthenparambil.

Meanwhile, Jacqui Hocking, CEO of VS Story, shared that they are incredibly excited to work closely with Redhill to realise their joint passion for creating genuine systemic impact, and she is looking forward to working with their clients together on creating visionary and purpose-driven narratives and initiatives that affect change and impact lives. 

“Through our collaboration, we reaffirm our commitment towards making Singapore a global centre for the circular economy, AgriTech, and sustainable finance,” said Hocking.

The acquisition signifies Redhill’s steadfast commitment to sustainability following the recent appointment of Marta Bigio, senior director of sustainability, earlier this year. It also marks the agency’s second acquisition, after acquiring Hong Kong-based Creative Consulting Group (CCG) in early 2022 as part of its continued global expansion.

Most recently, Redhill has also appointed Do Sik (DS) Kim, former senior writer at Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), to be its new chief operating officer for its Korea operation. He will be focusing on driving local expertise and cross-market collaboration to orchestrate broader capabilities for clients and accelerate business growth — with a sharp focus on the domestic market’s thriving start-up and tech investment ecosystem.