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Dentsu Forms DNA, a New Digital Umbrella Unit

360i CEO Bryan Wiener Tapped to Oversee Agency Group

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Burgeoning ad network Dentsu is getting organized.

Bryan Wiener
Bryan Wiener
The Japan-based holding company has just announced the creation of DNA, an umbrella holding unit in the U.S. that will house its key digital shops, 360i, Firstborn, Attik, and Steak, as well as Dentsu America and DentsuBos.

Bryan Wiener, the longtime CEO of 360i, has been tapped to oversee the unit as chairman of DNA. He adds that title while remaining chief at 360i.

Creating an umbrella operating unit under which like-minded shops sit is common in adland -- WPP has Group M, Publicis Groupe has Vivaki and Omnicom Group has its media unit OMG, for example -- so setting up DNA is a logical next step to help Dentsu's North American shops collaborate on client business.

"Most of these agencies are now co-located in our Tribeca [New York] offices, so there's a lot of efficiencies that can be brought out by operating this way," Tim Andree, president-CEO of the Dentsu Network, told Ad Age . "We're not blending these folks together, they're all distinct agencies with their own offerings...but from an operating perspective it's more of an internal construct to get the collaboration we need."

Said Mr. Wiener in a statement: "As a group, DNA will ensure digital planning and best practices are at the center of everything we do in order to better service clients across the companies. We will collaborate where it makes sense, while still preserving each agency's unique identity and value proposition."

The realignment comes on the heels of Dentsu embarking on one of the biggest acquisitions in the agency space in history -- it's $5 billion purchase agreement for U.K.-based holding company Aegis. Asked whether any Aegis brands could eventually be folded under the new DNA structure, Mr. Andree suggested it would be unlikely.

"We havent' determined how we're going to integrate with Aegis because it's still early in the process...as we get through the regulatory requirements we'll get some more details," said Mr. Andree. However, "Aegis as an organization will join into the Dentsu Network but right now we're planning to keep Aegis and their brands distinct and separate."

The next step in the union of the two holding company giants will come this week, when there's an Aegis shareholder vote on the sale. From there it's waiting for regulatory approval and a U.K. takeover panel to determine the closing of the sale. Dentsu is still aiming for a fourth-quarter close.

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