Dentsu-owned digital agency 360i is opening it first office outside the U.S., in London, to act as a hub for expansion into Europe ahead of a further rollout planned for South America.
Enterprise Holdings, which operates the Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent A Car and National Car Rental brands, is a client of 360i in the U.S. and is the catalyst for the move to Europe.
The European step is another move by Dentsu to turn its U.S. brands into international networks. Dentsu is following a similar path with McGarryBowen, which recently won a global assignment for Mondelez candy brand Toblerone from its London office and opened a Shanghai agency last month to serve Asia
Bryan Wiener, CEO of 360i and chairman of Dentsu North America, said, "We have a blue-chip roster of U.S.-based multinational clients who have asked us to help extend their digital marketing programs into Europe. The U.K. is a steppingstone to broader expansion." Dentsu bought 360i in January 2010.
Mr. Wiener said that a "handful" of other clients are expected to confirm that they will work with the London office of 360i within the next six months. The plan is to cover Europe from the London base, but 360i will also look at expanding physically in Europe if necessary.
The digital agency, which has five U.S. offices, is partnering with fellow Dentsu agency Steak, which Dentsu bought in June 2011, for the U.K. venture. Four of Steak's 90 staff will transfer to the new 360i office, which will also be hiring locally as well as transferring a few U.S. staff to London.
Rob Connolly will run 360i UK. He moves to become managing director of the new agency after three years as Dentsu's chief development officer in Europe.
Mr. Connolly said, "Steak has a fantastic record in digital media, and Steak clients who are looking for more brand-building digital work will be able to work with 360i. I've introduced the U.K. proposition for 360i to our current clients and I've been impressed by the reaction they've had."
The shop also hopes to pitch for local business in London although not in the rest of Europe. Mr. Wiener emphasized that the move is client-led. He said, "What's driving our expansion is working with existing clients and seeing where we can be most helpful. It's predicated on expanding relationships rather than becoming a local competitor beyond the U.K."
Brian Curtin, exec VP marketing at Enterprise Holdings, said in a statement, "360i is a trusted partner that has helped us grow our online business in North America and more recently in the U.K. We look forward to our continued partnership with the agency as it expands."
For the next step outside the U.S., Mr. Wiener said that 360i hopes to open an office in South America by the end of 2013.