Publicis acquires digital media agency iStrat, consulting firm MarketGate

7 Dec, 2012

Publicis Groupe, a French MNC specialising in advertising and communications, has completed two more acquisitions in India. It has acquired iStrat, a digital media agency and MarketGate Consulting Pvt Ltd, a brand and business consulting firm, for undisclosed sums. The acquisitions are part of its aim to double its size in the country by 2015. Both iStrat and MarketGate leadership will now report into Nakul Chopra, CEO, South Asia, Publicis Worldwide.

New Delhi-headquartered iStrat, founded in 2003 by Navneet Singh Sahni (CEO) and Sonya Sahni (head of marketing), provides digital communications services, including e-commerce storefronts, search engine optimisation, social media and rich media. iStrat counts Alpha G Corp (real estate), the Confederation of Indian Industries, Dupont (luxury accessories), Hero Corp (motorcycles), Hindware (kitchen and sanitary appliances), Maruti Suzuki, NASSCOM and Nestlé as its clients. The agency employs a team of 50 and also has offices in the US and Australia.

Post acquisition, the agency will be rebranded to Publicis iStrat and will operate as a unit within Publicis Modem, Publicis Worldwide's global digital network. Its founders will continue to lead the agency.

"The deal will offer richer, more diversified possibilities to both our clients and our teams. Our experience in India's digital space, together with Publicis' considerable know-how in brand building, will create an incredibly powerful offering for both current and future clients," said Navneet Sahni.

Mumbai-based MarketGate, s founded in 2005 by Shripad Nadkarni (CEO) and Sharda Agarwal (executive director), delivers services in business growth planning, marketing strategy, brand positioning, portfolio strategy, brand architecture development and marketing skills development. Its clients include Colgate, Dabur, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Godrej (personal care), HSBC, ICICI (financial services/banking), Madura Garments (fashion), Mahindra & Mahindra, MTR (foods), and Radio Mirchi Viacom.

Post acquisition, MarketGate will retain its name and will operate within Publicis Worldwide and the founders will continue to lead it. As part of this acquisition, Publicis Groupe will also acquire MarketGate Dimensions, a subsidiary providing research-based solutions to business, marketing and brand issues, with offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Its client list includes Glenmark (personal care), Kellogg's, Maruti Suzuki, The Walt Disney Company and Viacom 18.

"Twinning the expertise of Publicis Groupe with our extensive experience of marketing and consultancy across all sectors in India will make for a very powerful combination," said Nadkarni.

Other acquisitions in India

Publicis Groupe's has more than 2,500 permanent employees across India, through string of networks including BBH, Digitas, Leo Burnett, MSLGROUP, Publicis Healthcare Consulting Group, Publicis Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, Starcom MediaVest Group, and ZenithOptimedia.

India is currently Publicis Groupe's 13th largest market in terms of revenue and it has been working to increase its profile in the country through a couple of acquisitions in this year. These include the acquisition of Mumbai-based digital marketing startup Resultrix Media Pvt Ltd for an undisclosed amount in August this year. In April, the group had acquired Mumbai-based full-service digital agency Indigo Consulting for an undisclosed amount.

"We've recently made a number of bold moves in India, and we are going to continue doing so," said Jean-Yves Naouri, COO of Publicis Groupe and executive chairman of Publicis Worldwide,

"Building digital capabilities is a fundamental part of the Publicis strategy, and today's acquisition of iStrat and the strengthening of our digital arm in this promising market is a key step towards realising our growth goals. In addition, MarketGate is a fast-moving strategic outfit with strong skill-sets, an impressive range of clients and thorough knowledge of the Indian market and its consumers," he added.

Early last year, Publicis Groupe had acquired a majority stake in Watermelon Healthcare Communications Pvt Ltd, a leading healthcare advertising agency in Mumbai, for an undisclosed amount.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)