JWT Buys L.A. Shopper-Marketing Firm Lunchbox

WPP Network on the Hunt for More Acquisitions in Social, Mobile

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JWT North America has inked a deal to acquire Lunchbox L.P., a 70-person shopper-marketing agency based in Los Angeles. The companies share two key clients: Unilever and Kimberly-Clark.

The deal, which follows JWT's purchase a year ago of San Diego-based digital shop Digitaria, signals the WPP agency's focus on expanding the suite of services it offers clients, and shows that JWT wants to accomplish that expansion not organically, but by buying companies in fast-growing areas.

"We will continue to evaluate acquisitions that will further bolster JWT's offerings to our clients," JWT North America CEO and Worldwide Digital Director David Eastman told Ad Age . "Social and mobile are two areas we're actively looking at right now."

He declined to discuss terms of the deal with Lunchbox.

Lunchbox says its expertise is in retail strategy and building shopper-marketing solutions -- online, on mobile devices and via in-store video and point-of -purchase displays. The firm has also produced branded music performances online and in-store for retailers, and claims to have worked with a long list of well-known artists, including Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga, Adele, Rihanna, The Ting Tings, Lil Wayne, Drake and David Cook.

One of its better-known executions is the Walmart Soundcheck platform, which features original concert footage and interviews and partners with a variety of Unilever brands. It can be accessed through Walmart.com as well as in-store.

Lunchbox was founded in 2005 by Adam Roe, an interesting character who boasts on his LinkedIn page that in addition to his branding and advertising experience he is a former competitive skateboarder, Japanese monster movie star and a licensed clinical hypnotherapist. Though Lunchbox is based in L.A., it also has offices in San Francisco, Chicago and Bentonville, Ark.

As part of the deal, Lunchbox will keep its name and its staff will remain intact. Mr. Roe will now report to Mr. Eastman.

Said Mr. Roe in a statement: "We are now all closely measured by sales, which makes the role of shopper solutions ever more critical, yet the sale starts long before the customer ever gets to the shelf and often long before it gets to us. By joining forces, JWT and Lunchbox offer brands, retailers and shoppers an unstoppable solution from start to finish."

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