Schafer Condon Carter this week bought global public relations and digital agency TimeZoneOne, adding to a growing trend of mergers and acquisitions in the industry. The independent Chicago shop says it acquired 100 percent of the operations of TZO, which is also based in the Windy City but has locations in New Zealand and Canada as well. TZO’s clients include the Illinois Office of Tourism, State of Illinois, Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile Association. The 25-year-old agency will continue operating independently from SCC with Daniel Thomas staying at the helm as CEO and president.
Thomas comments, “SCC’s focus on data-driven creative is the perfect fit” for TZO’s “PR and digitally native approach.” SCC CEO Richard McDonald adds that the deal “creates synergies across abilities and clients as well as leverages complementary strengths.” SCC’s clients include Kellogg’s, Danone, the Chicago Cubs, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Casey’s General Stores and First Midwest Bank.
Meanwhile, independent creative and strategic brand agency Mesh also announced this week the acquisition of Converge Marketing, a strategic and analytics firm. Converge Marketing Founder Matt Preutt will remain on board as agency director. These are just the latest deals since the pandemic, during which time the industry has seen several mergers and acquisitions. They follow S4 Capital merging with Brightblue Consulting; Havas Group buying Australian media agency Hyland; Tool of North America integrating with tech studio nøcomputer; Trust Relations forming a strategic partnership with Cover3 Creative; and Minneapolis agency Stable merging with Arkansas-based retail shop Kreative Sales & Marketing.
AKQA expands to South Africa
WPP-owned global design and innovation agency AKQA has expanded its footprint to South Africa, opening two studios in Johannesburg and Cape Town via the acquisition (yet another example of recent consolidation) of the local TMARC group, along with its subsidiaries Strike Mobile and Platform 5. Strike Mobile is a performance marketing company that says it builds products and services driven by data, content, media and technology. Platform 5, which was rebranded to AKQA, is a solutions-based, certified Google Ads specialist founded in 2016. The studios collectively house 55 employees serving clients Unilever, Campari, Danone, RMB, Pernod Ricard, Foreyer New and Nestle. AKQA employs more than 2,200 people across 29 studios worldwide.
“To join the AKQA family and establish the South African office is a significant development for our business and our clients,” TMARC CEO Nick Terry says. “It is a significant endorsement of our business and our talent, demonstrating the long term opportunities we see in the South African market.”
FCB was named the creative agency of record for Go RVing, a rental service and informational site for RV travel. UM, which pitched alongside its sibling Interpublic Group of Cos. creative shop, will be responsible for the brand’s media buy. FCB will oversee all creative, brand and strategic messaging for Go RVing. The appointment follows a review that involved 25 agencies.
WPP was selected as Whirlpool Europe, Middle East and Africa's strategic communications partner across 29 countries in the region. The partnership takes effect in January 2021 and follows a nine-month pitch that involved six global networks. WPP says it will support the business with an international and integrated team based in Milan. Agencies Wunderman Thompson, VMLY&R, m/Six, BCW, Geometry, Hogarth and AKQA will assist on the account.
WPP also picked up global agency-of-record duties for Zespri International, the biggest marketer of kiwifruit. The holding company says an integrated team will help deliver Zespri’s brand position, “Make Your Healthy Irresistible,” through communications, experience, commerce and technology. The appointment—marking a consolidation of Zespri’s business with one agency partner—follows a one-year competitive pitch managed by consultancy R3 Worldwide. WPP says VMLY&R will lead strategy and creative; Mindshare will handle media planning and buying; Hogarth will oversee production; and Geometry will handle commerce experiences.
VMLY&R promoted Myron King to chief integration officer to lead organizational design and cultural integration strategy for North American clients. He will serve as strategic partner to the agency’s new cross-departmental Transformation Initiative, which was set up to implement efforts that combat systemic racism across all areas of VMLY&R’s business as well as its clients. King has been with the agency for 15 years, most recently as managing director of its advisory practice. He is also a founding member of VMLY&R’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee.
MediaLink, part of Ascential, has hired Kathleen Saxton as executive VP and managing director of its European operations. Saxton was most recently leading The Lighthouse, a firm she founded in 2009 and led across the marketing industry to advise and represent senior executives, optimize organizations, create new working models and build “super” integrated teams. She is also a psychotherapist and founder of Psyched Global, a series of leadership development programs. Based in London, Saxton will report to MediaLink Chairman-CEO Michael Kassan.
Wolfgang L.A. was named lead lead creative agency for Georgia-Pacific’s Sparkle Paper Towels. The appointment is an expansion of the independent creative agency’s relationship with Georgia-Pacific. Since its founding in 2017, Wolfgang has also worked with Georgia-Pacific brands Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups and Vanity Fair napkins. The agency has also produced and directed work for the company’s brands via its production arm, Wolfgang Productions.
On Board Experiential, an experiential marketing agency, announced the launch of Think True, a Black-owned and minority-led marketing consultancy. The company says Think True has been several years in the making. The consultancy is set up to help brands engage diverse communities, target underrepresented audiences and diversify their offerings, among other diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Its services include brand consulting, audience insight development, issue marketing, talent management, public relations, public policy consultation and grassroots and community outreach.