AKQA Makes Headway in Digital Media

Indie Shop Known for Creative Rounds Out Reputation With Recent Wins of Clorox, French Connection

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For a digital agency known for its creative work, AKQA is racking up a whole lot of media accounts.

AKQA Media, the agency's media-buying and -planning arm, has picked up a number of search and digital-media accounts during the past few months. Most recently, it was named search agency of record for Clorox Co., handling paid and organic search for a number of cleaning brands, including its namesake bleach and cleaning products as well as Green Works, Pine-Sol, Fresh Step, Kingsford and KC Masterpiece. Clorox Co. spent $22 million in U.S. internet display media in 2009, according to Ad Age Data Center. No estimates are available for search spending.

After starting its relationship with Autodesk in creative, AKQA also added global-media-agency duties for that client after a review and now handles search for French Connection Group, according to the agency. Both Clorox and French Connection are new relationships for AKQA.

The San Francisco-based agency's renewed focus on media is likely an effort to round out its highly creative reputation as some clients look to pare down their digital agency rosters. It's also a ploy to get a larger share of clients' digital budgets, when so many firms are vying to handle digital for marketers.

While AKQA has always had a full-service media department, it has grown significantly since 2007, when the agency acquired search firm SearchRev. Today, the agency counts about 100 employees dedicated to media. Regardless, the unit hasn't appeared to gain serious steam, until now.

It's also worth noting that AKQA, as the last digital agency of scale still privately held, has potential agency buyers watching closely. Its financial backer, private-equity firm General Atlantic, was unable to sell the agency to Japanese holding company Dentsu last year. While General Atlantic General Manager Anton Levy told Ad Age last month that AKQA is "not for sale" right now, a public showing that the agency is adding media prowess to its already strong creative rep definitely won't hurt at the negotiation table down the road.

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