PR Giant Edelman Acquires Swedish Creative Agency Deportivo

Deportivo Touts 20 Staffers, Experience With Clients Like Absolut and Philips

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Matt Harrington, global chief operating officer at Edelman

Edelman has made its largest non-PR investment yet with the acquisition of Stockholm-based creative shop Deportivo, the company said. Terms were not disclosed.

"They caught our attention over the last couple of years as they've made a big imprint in Sweden and in Cannes," said Matt Harrington, global chief operating officer at Edelman. "Our hope is that they become a creative engine for Europe but bring a different creative sensibility for the firm entirely."

Deportivo currently touts 20 staffers, just under $3 million in revenue and experience with clients such as Absolut and Philips, among other local and international marketers.

The purchase is a departure for the independent PR giant, which has typically strengthened capabilities through individual hires while saving the acquisitions for "geography plays," said Mr. Harrington. "This is our biggest investment in creative thus far."

The move is in line with the shop's acknowledgement that it needs to stengthen creative strategy and planning capabilities, he said. Recently client demand has driven the shop to add creative directors on a number of accounts. It also recently made a hefty investment in its creative newsrooms in various offices, spending a few million on talent alone.

"We're taking creative up a notch," he said. "This has been the biggest shift for the firm over the last couple of years."

That said, Deportivo isn't a traditional creative shop, the kind that would be known for TV spots or display ads. Rather, the agency build apps and designs online experiences. For example, it helped a Swedish anti-smoking organization persuade teenagers not to start smoking by placing a virtual "Fear Clinic" within the popular video game Minecraft. The clinic encouraged users to chat about their worries with an online psychologist.

The shop also used gaming in an app it created to promote Philips' Wake-Up Light alarm clock, which wakes you up gradually using sound and light. The shop created a game called "Unsnooze," letting complete strangers set their alarm clocks for the same time. The person to get out of bed first -- and not hit snooze -- won points and rose up on the "Unsnooze" chart.

Edelman plans to keep looking for ways to expand on its existing strengths. "We'll continue to be looking at expertise and capability more than geography," said Mr. Harrington. "We need to make certain we're building muscle across the spectrum -- creative, analytics and digital."