WPP Acquires Arkansas-Based Digital Shop Rockfish Interactive

One-Time Ad Age Small Agency of the Year Will Remain Its Own Entity

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WPP has agreed to acquire Rockfish Interactive, the Rogers, Ark.-based digital agency. Purchase price was not disclosed.

Kenny Tomlin at Ad Age 's Small Agency Conference.
Kenny Tomlin at Ad Age 's Small Agency Conference.

Rockfish, which brought in $14.4 million in revenue last year, will remain its own entity and not be rolled into WPP's massive agency networks Y&R, Ogilvy & Mather or JWT, said agency CEO Kenny Tomlin. Mr. Tomlin will report to WPP Digital CEO Mark Read.

"WPP will help us accelerate our expansion in the U.S. and ultimately internationally," said Mr. Tomlin.

Today, the agency has 150 employees and two offices in Arkansas and one each in Cincinnati and Dallas. Rockfish has focused on technology since its inception in 2006 and counts its hometown marketing giant, Walmart, as well as Sam's Club, Procter & Gamble and Tyson Foods, as clients. It also is one of a handful of shops that has launched a ventures arm to invest in startups.

On the digital ad front, it's been a very busy year for WPP, the largest agency holding company.

Earlier this summer, WPP took a 70% stake in F.biz, the largest independent digital agency in Brazil.

That followed WPP's rolling up a smattering of digital agencies under the WPP Digital banner, including Schematic and Bridge Worldwide, to create Possible Worldwide. Possible is WPP's first global digital-only agency network and will compete with the likes of Publicis Groupe 's Digitas and Razorfish. (Publicis, too, has been aggressively snapping up digital shops this year, most recently taking a 51% stake in social media shop Big Fuel and acquiring Rosetta outright.)

Rockfish was Ad Age 's first Small Agency of the Year in 2009. When it made the Ad Age Agency A-List in January last year, the company had 80 employees.

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