SapientNitro Buys U.K. Shop Digital and Direct for $41 Million

Customer Acquisition and Engagement Specialist Will Improve Network's Direct Offering

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SapientNitro is announcing today the acquisition of independent U.K. agency Digital and Direct for $41 million, in a bid to bolster the network's direct-response offering.

Known as DAD, the London-based shop also has offices in Amsterdam and Munich. It specializes in customer acquisition and engagement, working with some of the biggest U.K. marketers including satellite TV company Sky, Vodafone and British retail giant Marks & Spencer.

DAD, which employs 200 people, began life as Finex in 1991. In 2000 it was sold to Incepta, a marketing and communications group, but founder Ray Fine bought the agency back in 2007, because -- according to the agency's website -- "being an entrepreneurial peg in a corporate hole wasn't the best fit for us."

Mr. Fine will join the SapientNitro European management team and will report to Nigel Vaz, managing director of SapientNitro in the U.K.

SapientNitro bought a small German mobile agency called CLANMO in July, its first acquisition since buying the Shanghai-based Nitro network in June 2009. That deal was an attempt to combine Nitro's offline advertising capabilities with Sapient's digital offering.

Speaking about the DAD acquisition, a Sapient spokesman said, "Think about it: You could see a product on a website, then visit a retail store, comparison shop for products at other merchants on your mobile phone, and buy at their online kiosk, crossing all those channels within seconds. There's a need for a new kind of marketing that can engage, satisfy -- and measure -- demand in whichever channels the customer happens to be in."

SapientNitro calls this concept "real-time marketing." The spokesman added, "We stand to benefit from the direct-response rigor and methodology that DAD will bring to our entire organization."

In August, SapientNitro, which has 33 offices in Europe, Asia and the Americas, reported first-half organic revenue growth of 27% to $254.6 million. Its clients include Foot Locker, New Balance, Coca-Cola, Dove ice cream, Tourism Queensland and Chrysler Group's Dodge.

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