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Publicis agencies Digitas and LBi merge

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Publicis Groupe has merged its digital agencies Digitas, based in Boston, and LBi, based in London, to form DigitasLBi, a global digital agency network. DigitasLBi, with joint headquarters in Boston and London, will operate in 25 countries and serve b-to-b clients including American Express Co., Delta Air Lines, eBay and Sprint. “Digitas is such a juggernaut in the U.S., and LBi is very strong in Europe and also in Asia,” said Colin Kinsella, CEO of Digitas North America. “This merger takes our expertise in the b-to-b space and takes it globally.” In 2011, Digitas formed a b-to-b unit called Digitas Business, serving clients including American Express OPEN, which serves small-business customers; Emerson; and Sprint. That business is led by Dennis Reilly, senior VP-managing director of Digitas Business. While LBi does not have a b-to-b unit, the merged agency will create one to work with global b-to-b clients, Kinsella said. “There will be a lot of integration in Europe— a lot of [Digitas] offices in Europe will be merged with LBi offices,” he said. “In the U.S., it will feel like little integration.” In North America, LBi will merge with Publicis sister agency MRY, New York, a social media agency, and Digitas offices will not be affected. “Our leadership will stay intact, and we will start to leverage a lot of technology and CRM expertise from LBi,” Kinsella said. LBi also has expertise in e-commerce, performance media and loyalty marketing, while Digitas is a full-service digital marketing agency offering brand strategy, creative execution, website development, search marketing and other interactive capabilities. “LBi comes at us with platform and technology perspective, which will be incredibly helpful to our b-to-b clients and add to our CRM resources,” Kinsella said. For example, LBi recently hired former Oracle executive Anthony Lye as president-digital platforms and channels. Lye and Reilly will work with DigitasLBi clients globally on CRM and technology platform issues. In November, Digitas introduced BrandLive, a service that combines social and content strategies to help clients deliver relevant content to target audiences. Some of the tools in BrandLive include social listening, trend analytics and real-time analytics. Digitas LBi will use the BrandLive platform to help clients execute global content strategies, Kinsella said. “In the end, this merger gives us greater scale, reach and more platform-oriented technology. It allows us to have weight when dealing with technology partners like Oracle, Adobe and others,” he said. “We are in two business pitches [for b-to-b accounts] right now, and because of this merger, it's allowing us to take on new conversations.”
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