Scholz & Friends is a leading marketing services network headquartered in Germany, with offices throughout Central & Eastern Europe. There are three offices in Germany, in Hamburg, Duesseldorf and Berlin; and also outposts in lesser travelled markets such as Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovakia and Serbia as well as Switzerland, Italy and Belgium. Parent company Commarco was acquired in 2011 by WPP, but retains a standalone identity, operating for the most part separately from WPP's other networks, apart from digital unit Scholz & Friends Possible, a joint venture with the WPP digital network of the same name. Other Scholz satellites offer a wide variety of services including experiential, content development, b2b communications, retail marketing, employer branding and reputation management, among other disciplines. Commarco itself serves as the umbrella for several other agencies under WPP's overall ownership. They include TV and film production company United Networks, integrated agency Deep Blue, CRM specialist GKK Dialog, strategic consultancy Blumberry and PR company Nicole Weber Communications. It is a substantial enterprise comprising some 25 agencies altogether and 1,900 staff. Frank-Michael Schmidt is group CEO. WPP is the latest in a string of different owners. Scholz was originally founded in Hamburg in 1981 by Juergen Scholz, previously the much-admired creative chief of BBDO Germany, and often described as one of the godfathers of the German ad industry. It was subsequently acquired by Bates Worldwide and groomed to become a second advertising network within the Cordiant portfolio. In 2001, it merged with UVE, a publicly quoted production company specialising in live entertainment programming for television and the internet. The resulting business, then still controlled by Cordiant, was Germany's first publicly quoted advertising and marketing communications group. However, financial problems within Cordiant led Scholz to regain its independence in 2003 through a buyout by private equity fund Cognetas (later rebranded as Motion Equity Partners). It remained independent until the WPP takeover eight years later.
Capsule checked 27th November 2018
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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Oct 2015: WPP agreed to sell back 25% of the equity in European creative network Scholz & Friends to the management team, reducing its own stake to 75%. The move is designed to further incentivise local managers and dissuade them from leaving. Around 20 partners will share the equity between them. Scholz parent entity Commarco also recently widened its footprint with the acquisition of local PR agency Nicole Weber Communications.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Dec 2014: Creative director Andre Kemper already enjoys notoriety as one of the "bad boys" of the German advertising industry. He added considerably to that reputation this week with the unexpected capture of the European creative account for Mercedes-Benz through a newly formed partnership with another star of the local industry, current DDB Germany CEO Tonio Kroger. Mercedes recently completed a protracted creative review by confirming a move away from longtime incumbent Jung von Matt without naming a new lead agency. Presumably they were awaiting confirmation from Kemper and Kroger. Because there's one big complication - Kemper has only just started a contract to produce advertising for another major German car brand, GM-owned Opel, through a separate partnership with WPP's Scholz & Friends agency. Meanwhile, Kroger is still under contract to Omnicom, which was quick to reassure local DDB staff by announcing the return to Germany of global creative chief Amir Kassei to take control of operations. It's unclear just how this complicated situation will play out, but it's certain that all the parties involved are consulting with their lawyers. Kemper is tied to Opel and Scholz & Friends until at least April 2016, despite the fact that the new Kroger/Kemper team is expected to begin work on Mercedes in July next year.
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Apr 2014: WPP's German subsidiary Commarco confirmed the launch of a dedicated agency to handle GM's Opel account, operating alongside current account holder Scholz & Friends. As had long been rumoured, the new unit will be helmed by local creative star Andre Kemper, who recently finalised his departure from indie Thjnk. (It seems that WPP and GM were not phased by Kemper's widely reported recent punch-up at the Vienna Opera Ball.) Kemper will have a 20% stake in the new agency, to Commarco's 80%. The name of the new shop has yet to be confirmed, but it won't be Opel Garage as previously rumoured, apparently for legal reasons.
Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Mar 2014: BBDO Proximity in Duesseldorf was awarded pan-European duties for Imperial Tobacco, whose cigarette brands include John Player Special, Gauloises and West. The account was previously with Deep Blue Networks, a through-the-line unit of WPP's Scholz & Friends. No budget was disclosed, and the majority of Imperial's European marketing budget is spent on CRM, because of restrictions on tobacco advertising, but some advertising is still allowed in Germany. That country has the least binding restrictions on tobacco marketing of any EU country, with out-of-home advertising still allowed, as well as cinema advertising after 6pm, and no prohibitions on experiential marketing. Only two of Germany's 16 states have an outright ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th Mar 2014: Vienna's high society Opera Ball received global tabloid coverage this week after reality star Kim Kardashian stormed out of the white-tie event, reportedly because of a racist insult aimed at her fiance Kanye West. However the German marketing media were much more excited about the punch-up between renowned advertising executive Andre Kemper and a fellow partygoer, all captured on camera. Kemper came to the assistance of his friend, the German TV presenter Johannes Kerner, who was being verbally accosted by another guest, an elderly but clearly inebriated businessman. Finally, Kemper swung a punch at the older man, cutting open his chin. Who would have guessed that a night at the opera could be so exciting? The timing of the incident was not ideal as far as Kemper is concerned, since he is currently negotiating to join WPP-owned Scholz & Friends to take charge of the Opel auto account. He finally agreed terms this week for his resignation from his current agency Thjnk, formerly Kemper Trautmann, but the public brawl will not have impressed his new potential employers at WPP or Opel's notoriously conservative owner General Motors.
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