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Publicis Groupe acquires a digital agency and a consulting firm in India

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MUMBAI: French global communications network, Publicis Groupe, has snapped up two Indian companies as part of its strategy to strengthen its digital offering and double the size of its India business by 2015.

The first to be gobbled is iStrat, India‘s foremost integrated digital agency. The second purchase is MarketGate, a Mumbai-based strategic business and marketing consulting firm.

"We look at talent and relevance while.making acquisitions and consulting is at the core of our business. So these two deals are in sync with our plans," said Publicis Groupe COO and Publicis Worldwide Executive Chairman Jean-Yves Naouri.

Naouri said that India‘s talent pool and market appetite make it a lucrative destination. "We agree that India is not where we would want it to be right now. But the country shows talent and appetite which makes it extremely positive," he added.

He also said that the acquisitions and consequent alignments of the acquired entites have been made keeping in mind the structure of the Publicis Groupe.

While Indigo is aligned with Leo Burnett, Resultrix is with ZenithOptimedia. iStrat, on the other hand, will fall under Publicis Worldwide.

iStrat will be rebranded Publicis iStrat and will operate as a unit within Publicis Modem, Publicis Worldwide‘s global digital network. Its founders, Navneet Singh Sahni (CEO) and Sonya Sahni (Head of Marketing), will continue to lead the agency.

MarketGate will retain its name and will operate within Publicis Worldwide. It will also continue to be led by founders Shripad Nadkarni (CEO) and Sharda Agarwal (Executive Director). Both iStrat and MarketGate leadership will now report into Nakul Chopra, CEO South Asia for Publicis Worldwide.

Publicis had earlier acquired full-service interactive and technology agency Indigo Consulting, which operates as a unit within the Leo Burnett Group, the creative arm of Publicis.

iStrat was founded in 2003 and provides solutions across all forms of digital marketing. The agency services a broad range of prestigious clients, including Alpha G:Corp (real estate), the Confederation of Indian Industries, Dupont (luxury accessories), Hero Corp (motorcycles), Hindware (kitchen and sanitary appliances), Maruti Suzuki, the Nasscom software trade association, and Nestle.

The agency, which is headquartered in Delhi and employs a team of 50, provides the full range of digital communications services including e-commerce store fronts, search engine optimization, social media, and rich media.

MarketGate, which was founded in 2005, delivers services in business growth planning, marketing strategy, brand positioning, portfolio strategy, brand architecture development, and marketing skills development. The agency‘s seven consulting experts aim to rejuvenate brands and power their growth by deploying marketing processes throughout their clients‘ organisations.

Its clientele includes Colgate, Dabur (foods/personal care), General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Godrej (personal care), HSBC, ICICI (financial services/banking), Madura Garments (fashion), Mahindra & Mahindra (automobile), MTR (foods), and Radio Mirchi.

As a part of this acquisition, Publicis Groupe will also acquire MarketGate Dimensions, a subsidiary of MarketGate, providing research-based solutions to business, marketing and brand issues, with offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Its client list includes Glenmark (personal care), Kellogg‘s, Maruti Suzuki, The Walt Disney Company and Viacom 18.

"Building digital capabilities is a fundamental part of the Publicis strategy, and today‘s acquisition of iStrat and the strengthening of our digital arm in this promising market is a key step towards realising our growth goals. In addition, MarketGate is a fast-moving strategic outfit with strong skill-sets, an impressive range of clients and thorough knowledge of the Indian market and its consumers." he continued.

"We are excited to become a part of the Publicis Worldwide network, and we look forward to tapping into its global best practices," added iStrat co-founders Navneet Singh Sahni and Sonya Sahni.

"Today‘s deal will offer richer, more diversified possibilities to both our clients and our teams. Our experience in India‘s digital space, together with Publicis‘ considerable know-how in brand building, will create an incredibly powerful offering for both current and future clients."

"This is a very exciting move for all of us at MarketGate," added Shripad Nadkarni and Sharda Agarwal. "Twinning the world-class expertise of Publicis Groupe with our extensive experience of marketing and consultancy across all sectors in India will make for a very powerful combination. We‘re passionate about our clients, and we know that they will benefit from this move."

India is currently the world‘s 16th largest advertising market, and although the country‘s economic growth has slowed somewhat in 2012, it remains over 5 per cent. ZenithOptimedia forecasts (December 2012) advertising expenditure to increase by 7.7 per cent in India in 2013.

Publicis Groupe had recently made VivaKi a separate business unit and will be available to all Publicis Groupe agencies and the market.

VivaKi was launched in 2008 to accelerate the digital transformation of Publicis Groupe and its agencies. It was created through the combined scale and leadership of Digitas, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), ZenithOptimedia and later Razorfish.

Fast-growing economies like Brazil, India, China and Russia are on the radar of all the global communications agencies. Publicis too is bullish about BRIC nations as these economies are called.

The French communications group had also acquired Beijing-based digital marketing company, Longtuo, to gain clout in China‘s burgeoning e-Commerce market.

It also bolstered Saatchi & Saatchi‘s digital offering in Asia Pacific by buying out local interactive agency Arachnid, which was later re-branded Saatchi & Saatchi Arachnid.

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