Project Worldwide Adds Another Shop to Its Growing Network

Acquires Motive to Expand Digital, Experiential Chops for Clients

By Published on .

Project Worldwide, the upstart agency holding firm run by Bob Vallee Jr., has purchased digital and experiential shop Motive in its latest bid to grow the network.

The agency, which has offices in Denver and New York City, specializes in digital, experiential, promotional and social-media marketing. Its client relationships include PepsiCo's Mountain Dew, SoBe, The Cartoon Network and Van's Natural Foods.

Purchase price was not disclosed. Mr. Vallee, chairman-CEO of Project, told Ad Age the deal is an earnout, and that Motive will "be incented to grow their business with other Project agencies." He noted that the Motive deal gives the holding company new capabilities it can bring to clients, plus experience in the packaged goods sector.

"Their list of clients is a little different than that which we're already pretty deep with," said Mr. Valle. "The Project network currently has a significant list of IT and auto clients, and now we're beginning to get into CPG, and so it's a very good fit."

According to Motive's founder and CEO, Matt Statman, the shop wasn't officially on the block when some mutual contacts suggested that Project and Motive meet. Talks heated up during the summer, and a deal began shaping up about three months ago. "Quite honestly, an acquisition wasn't something we were seeking out ... but there was an alignment that existed philosophically: the idea that the Project network is focused on engagement marketing, which is what Motive is about, and the idea of bringing that to our clients and their clients as a team." Mr. Statman said, "We didn't want to be just another roster agency in a network." Instead, he wants to provide Motive's services to Project clients and to other Project agencies.

Mr. Vallee stressed that for this deal -- and for that matter, any others it does going forward -- the shop will need to work well with its sister shops under the Project umbrella on client work. "Deep collaboration between the agencies will be critical to the growth of our network," he said. "We certainly don't have the financial capability of the three big holding companies [WPP, Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe ], so for us, making strategic investments is very important."

Project was created in 2010 around event-marketing shop George P. Johnson, and from there has been acquiring agencies rapidly, including Juxt Interactive, Australian agency Spinifex Group, Germany's Raumtechnik, creative agency Partners + Napier, and social-media shop Affinitive.

Mr. Vallee says he's increasingly looking at acquisition prospects in Europe and Asia. At least one and possibly two more deals are in the works that could be finalized by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

Most Popular