Publicis Grows Modem Unit With I-shop Buy in France

Acquires Wcube, With Plans for Further Expansion

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Publicis Groupe's digital-buying binge isn't over as the holding company snaps up another agency to grow its global network.
From left: Thierry Vandewalle, co-president, Publicis Modem France; Martin Reidy, CEO, Publicis Modem and Publicis Dialog; and Xavier Gury, co-president Publicis Modem France
From left: Thierry Vandewalle, co-president, Publicis Modem France; Martin Reidy, CEO, Publicis Modem and Publicis Dialog; and Xavier Gury, co-president Publicis Modem France

The French holding company, which late last year swallowed up Digitas in a $1.3 billion deal, has now purchased Paris-based independent communications agency Wcube. Terms were not disclosed.

Early i-shop
Established in 1995, Wcube was one of France's earliest interactive agencies. The company employs about 60, and counts Jean-Paul Gaultier, Lee Jeans, Sara Lee and Sprite among its clients.

Publicis said the buy marks an entry into France for its Modem unit, formerly known as Modem Media, whose business is centered on digital and interactive skills. Under the deal, Wcube will be re-branded as Publicis Modem France. (Publicis acquired Modem in 2004, and in May it was renamed Publicis Modem and aligned with Publicis Dialog as part of Publicis Worldwide.)

"The French market is key to our success in extending the Publicis Modern digital footprint, and Publicis Modem France will be an important hub for growth and innovation," Martin Reidy, CEO of Publicis Modem and Publics Dialog Worldwide, said in a statement.

Mr. Reidy said he and others -- including Publicis Groupe head Maurice Levy, who personally got involved in negotiations -- went with Wcube because they liked the culture at the agency. "They have an entrepreneurial spirit" Mr. Reidy told Advertising Age, "and they live and breathe digital."

10 more offices planned
With France under its belt, Publicis Modem will look elsewhere to rapidly grow its digital offerings. It has plans to open up to 10 more offices worldwide over the next six months, Mr. Reidy said.

Xavier Gury and Thierry Vandewalle, co-presidents of Wcube, have been tapped to oversee the new unit. The duo will report to Publicis France CEO Philippe Lentschener, as well as Mr. Reidy on a global interactive basis.

Publicis' acquisition comes as the ad-holding companies continue to bulk up their digital offerings. This is the second digital acquisition by a holding company this week; WPP Group on Sept. 10 announced its acquisition of Los Angeles-based interactive company Schematic.
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