Publicis buys digital agency Synergize, integrates it with Saatchi & Saatchi
by Herman Manson (@marklives) Publicis is buying out digital agency Synergize and launching a new unit within Saatchi & Saatchi South Africa, called Saatchi & Saatchi Synergize. AtPlay, the digital division of Saatchi & Saatchi, will be integrated into the new agency.
Aim of the acquisition
The aim of the acquisition is to build Saatchi & Saatchi SA out as a fully integrated agency. The deal comes after 10 months of negotiations between the two. Synergize shareholders will have a five-year earn out.
According to Saatchi & Saatchi SA Group CEO Gail Curtis, building an integrated agency offering isn’t as simple as many may suggest, but this deal shows the group’s commitment to becoming a fully integrated agency that houses good technology, as well as good ideas skill sets.
Shaune Jordaan, CEO of Synergize, becomes CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Synergize. Synergize’s 48 staff members will move into the current Cape Town offices of Saatchi & Saatchi.
“Big data and big emotion”
Jordaan says the deal combines “big data and big emotion” (Saatchi is positioned as The Lovemarks Company) that will give the digital agency colour. He foresees a powerful offering that uses digital as a point of measurement for ATL campaigns.
Saatchi & Saatchi will also adopt a two-office-one-agency approach to its agency offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Ian Young, its Cape Town MD, recently stepped down after 17 years with the agency to pursue new career opportunities. “We have done away with an independent Johannesburg and Cape Town office structure, consolidating our offering into Saatchi & Saatchi South Africa,” says Curtis. “We have moved away from a hierarchical model, towards a more streamlined to offer our clients a fully integrated offering with business directors running teams who are focused on individual clients.”
With the acquisition of Synergize, Saatchi & Saatchi now employs 154 people across SA. The Cape Town office will serve as a hub for creative and digital work within the SA agency. The digital and creative teams will be fully integrated — a task Jordaan aims to achieve within 100 days of the merger.
Won a joint pitch already
Synergise and Saatchi & Saatchi has already won one significant joint pitch, says Curtis, details of which can only be released in the new year.
A digital education programme is also being rolled out throughout the agency so that all the people in the company have an understanding of digital. Curtis says the agency is about to completely transform itself and will soon look vastly different from its current incarnation.
Chris Corbet, COO of Saatchi & Saatchi Synergize, says the management team at Synergise brings an entrepreneurial culture into Saatchi & Saatchi and that its aim is to grow the Saatchi & Saatchi brand in SA and across the continent.
Roll out across Africa
The new integrated offering will eventually be rolled out across the Saatchi & Saatchi Africa Network. The agency has been moving from affiliates to minority or majority ownership of its Africa agencies, and growth has been gratifying, says Curtis.
Jordaan says that, with its fast-growing population, decent economic growth and large mobile user base, Saatchi & Saatchi Synergize will be well positioned to build its business out across the continent.
Synergise was established in 1999 and offers a broad range of digital services, including SEO, web and mobile development, and content management development. It is a certified Google Adwords and Analytics partner. Its client portfolio includes Mr D, Remax, Sotheby’s, Frank.net, Mr Price, Checkers and a host of others. The business turns around R20 million in revenue a year.
Broad range of clients
Saatchi & Saatchi, part of the Publicis Groupe, serves a broad range of clients, including Pampers, Ariel, UCT GSB, Campari (Nigeria), Tuffy and others. On the back of the successful launch of Ariel in SA, Saatchi & Saatchi was recently appointed to launch Trident Gum and Halls into Africa.
Not too long ago, however, it lost the Guinness account in Africa to Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and sister agency Network BBDO.
Jordaan says his team are excited to work with Curtis, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts, and Saatchi & Saatchi EMEA COO Justin Billingsley.
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