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DraftFCB Boosts U.K. Presence With Acquisition of Inferno

Interpublic Shop's London Office Will Be Led By Execs From New Agency

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DraftFCB Worldwide has acquired London ad agency, Inferno, in a bid to boost its presence in the U.K. market.

Credit: Frazer Gibney and Carter Murray

The move comes only two months after Carter Murray took up the role of DraftFCB's CEO, an appointment announced back in March. Although the original Foote Cone & Belding was a major player in the U.K. in the 1970s and 1980s, DraftFCB has never had much of a profile in London. Mr. Murray is moving swiftly to try and create a credible European hub for the Interpublic agency brand.

The new agency will be called Inferno DraftFCB, and will be led by Frazer Gibney, founding partner and CEO of Inferno. Kate Howe, president of DraftFCB U.K. and Europe, will leave at the end of the year after four-and-a-half years with the agency. David Harris, DraftFCB's chief creative officer, has also resigned.

Both agencies have been unsettled over the last couple of years. DraftFCB London reduced its headcount by 10% last year, and promoted Ms. Howe after both its executive creative director and its global chief planning officer left the agency. Clients include Beiersdorf, Mondelez, Coca-Cola, and eBay.

Inferno, whose biggest accounts are Nokia, Sky and Skype, integrated Farm – an agency that was closing down – into its business in February 2012. A year later, Inferno lost its managing director and public face, Andy Cairns. The agency was founded in 2000 and employs 120 people, the same number as DraftFCB.

Al Young, best known for his radical creative work at HHCL in the 1990s and now Inferno's chief creative officer, will retain his role. Tim Doust, a founding partner of Inferno, will run the agency alongside Mr. Gibney.

In a statement, Mr. Murray said, "The move is a win-win for all involved. Inferno and DraftFCB's combined capabilities and instant critical mass will enable the agency to better service global clients and grow more quickly organically. With such deep bench strength, increased thought leadership and an unwavering commitment to creativity, we are confident of and excited about our future in the U.K."

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