Dentsu America Acquires ATTIK

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Dentsu America, the Western division of the Dentsu agency umbrella, is furthering its goal of expanding its North American portfolio, with today's announcement that it had acquired San Francisco-based creative firm ATTIK.

(The ATTIK heads, l-r: Ric Peralta, William Travis, Simon Needham and James Sommerville)
(The ATTIK heads, l-r: Ric Peralta, William Travis, Simon Needham and James Sommerville)
"The Dentsu brand really hasn't been a prominent brand here in North America over the course of its 40-year history," Dentsu America CEO Tim Andree says. "But it's the number one agency brand worldwide, so our mission is to change that [in North America]. Our first order of business in doing that is getting a great team of talented people together. That was our number one reason we were interested in ATTIK because of their demonstrated capability in the digital and design space. Beyond all that, they work hard as hell and they like to win."

With Dentsu America seeking growth, ATTIK was coincidentally on its own quest to find the right agency to partner with and grow as well, according to group CEO Ric Peralta. "We pursued [Dentsu]," he explains. "We were looking for a good partner for us that didn't have too many overlapping issues. We didn't find that many, and then we finally stumbled upon Dentsu. It was fortuitous timing that they had a CEO who was receptive to what were doing. And then after a couple of phone calls, we had a meeting going and it was pretty painless."

Having already established a client base that currently includes Boost Mobile, Scion and ExpressJet Airlines in the U.S., along with Coca-Cola, Heineken and Adidas in the U.K., it was an attractive opportunity for Peralta & Co to step into an atmosphere where they could maintain ATTIK's name, manage its clientele and avoid corporate control. "I've done this a few times in the past and have found that once you step into another organization that has competing properties, while it's fun for them to see saturation in the market, there's a lot of cross-purpose activity going on and it becomes this silo environment," Peralta says. "It's not a real healthy place for a small entrepreneurial group to be because we're not used to playing the corporate game. So Dentsu not having any of these political things was very attractive to us—that and everything else that they stand for and how our culture fits right in with them without it being controlled in any way or measured against some standard that they have internally."

The feeling is mutual for Dentsu's Andree. "I don't want to change anything about ATTIK," he says. "In fact, I want ATTIK's culture to have some impact on Dentsu America, so they'll keep their name, they'll keep their corporate ID and operate as a division of Dentsu America still focusing on their existing clients. From time to time, we'll work together on clients we currently have and we'll pitch business together. There also may be some clients down the road that will require ATTIK's capabilities and introduce and grow them as we grow."

With the ATTIK name intact, the agency's management team will also remain in place, with Peralta becoming president, ATTIK Division, Dentsu America, reporting to Andree. Additionally, William Travis, President of ATTIK's U.S. operations, becomes VP while co-founders Simon Needham and James Sommerville will remain creative director, ATTIK U.S. and creative director, ATTIK U.K., respectively. To discuss this article, visit the Creativity Forums.
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