Acquisitions Continue for Publicis Groupe with Purchase of Ohio-Based Engauge

While Awaiting Approval of Omnicom Merger, French Giant Forges Ahead with More Deals

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As Publicis Groupe awaits approval of what the industry is calling "the biggest bang" -- its merger with Omnicom Group -- the highly-acquisitive French ad holding company is forging ahead with some digital deal-making.

For its latest purchase, it turned to six-year old digital agency Engauge Marketing, based in Columbus, Ohio. With 285 employees, Engauge counts Coca-Cola, Nationwide and Cisco Systems as clients. The majority owner of the shop was private-equity firm Halyard Capital.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to the Ad Age DataCenter, Engauge's 2012 revenue was $39 million. For Publicis Groupe, that jibes with a plan it stated in April to focus on buying small to mid-size digital firms -- although it previously indicated that the focus would be more on emerging markets rather than mature ones.

Still, it's a disruptive time for a deal considering it will be waiting for the next several months to obtain approval of its tie-up with Omnicom to become the biggest marketing services company by revenue in history. There is a bit of an Omnicom connection with this deal, however; the genesis of Engauge was a partnership between Halyard and Stan Rapp, co-founder and former chairman of direct marketing giant Rapp Worldwide, which is an Omnicom company.

For Engauge, the deal came about after a year of shopping itself around to various ad holding firms.

"Over the past year, the leadership team of Engauge has explored ways to meet the challenges of the evolving and increasingly complex marketing landscape to ultimately help with our clients' continued success," said Nick Bandy, CEO of Engauge, in a statement. "Through this discovery work we entered discussions with multiple companies across the advertising business. Where we found most accord and alignment with our mutual goals was with Publicis Groupe. We believe this change in ownership will enable us to meet our goals, provide long-term stability to our company, give access to world-class marketing resources, products, tools and apps, research, data and insight capability and, of course, access to a substantial talent pool across the world which for our people presents greatly enhanced career opportunities."

Engauge will be aligned with Atlanta-based digital agency Moxie, which was acquired by Publicis Groupe's Zenith in 2006.

The deal ultimately will be a roll-up of several firms. When Engauge was formed back in 2007, it brought together disparate shops, including: Ten United, a Columbus-based advertising agency with offices in Pittsburgh and Orlando; Spunlogic, a digital marketing services company in Atlanta; and Direct Impact, a data analytics and CRM company in Austin, Texas.

Combined, Engauge and Moxie will have more than 600 employees.

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