Karmarama is a leading creative agency based in London. It is now one of the UK's biggest independent shops, breaking into Campaign's Top 30 rankings for the first time in 2009, and climbing into the Top 20 in 2015. It was founded in 2000 by Dave Buonaguidi, a co-founder of St Luke's and later of Channel 4's inhouse unit 4creative. Yet for the most part the agency remained only a minor presence until the arrival in 2008 of Nicola Mendelsohn, one of London's best-connected ad executives and former deputy chairman of Grey. The agency expanded dramatically in 2012 following the introduction of expansion capital and the acquisition of integrated agency Crayon. Mendelsohn moved on in 2013 but Karmarama has continued to prosper. At the end of 2016, the agency was acquired by Accenture.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2018: Ads of the Week: "This Is Belonging 2018: Faith". Karmarama's new campaign for British Army recruitment got the usual dog whistle anti-political correctness flak from the Daily Mail and other right-wing media outlets but actually the concept is entirely admirable. There are 10 very diverse campaigns, but just a couple have raised eyebrows for tackling questions of faith and gender. Here's the one designed to show that the Army aims to accept different faiths among its ranks. In reality, we're sure there would be plenty of ribbing too, but taken as a whole, the ads offer an excellent, balanced and quite compelling vision of life in the Armed Forces. Surely, this is how we all feel the Army should be, even the Daily Mail. See our Facebook page for a few of the other - less controversial - ads in the campaign.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Jan 2017: Ads of the Week: "This is Belonging". Oh, that quiet British reserve, God bless it! We'd wager there isn't another country in the world that could successfully promote a career in the military with these low-key but surprisingly convincing spots for the British Army from Karmarama. Other countries do the Band of Brothers thing with yee-haws and high fives; we do it with a cup of soup and a rub on the head.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Dec 2016: In an unexpected but probably inevitable challenge to the major marketing groups, arguably the most pioneering of the major management consultancies to have moved into digital marketing has now acquired its first traditional creative agency. Accenture acquired London creative agency Karmarama for an undisclosed sum though to be around £50m. The shop will retain its own brand, at least for the time being, under the umbrella of its new owner's Accenture Interactive division, and the current management team will also contribute their expertise to AI's EMEA and Latin American operations. Creative chief Nik Studzinski becomes lead creative officer for Accenture Interactive across the region and will assist with the creation of new global creative council.
"Acquiring a creative agency in London, where some of the world’s most iconic creative work is produced, will help us reshape how brands imagine, create, and deliver customer experiences," said Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive. "Karmarama will become part of the world’s largest digital agency, expanding our global capabilities across experience, marketing, content and commerce with excellence in creative and mobile. This will contribute to further differentiate Accenture Interactive as a new breed of agency – experience architects – which helps brands connect disconnected experiences and shares accountability with clients for their business outcomes." Accenture has acquired a number of small and midsize digital agencies in recent years, as have peers such as PwC, Deloitte and IBM. However this is the first time any of the consultancies have crossed over so blatantly into the traditional turf of WPP, Omnicom et al. with the purchase of a well-known broad-based creative agency.
Karmarama founder Dave Buonaguidi left the agency in 2014 and is now CCO of CP&B London, though he remained a shareholder. He commented "Accenture know their shit, they have a great business, and strong relationships, but they have little or no culture of note. Karmarama have a good creative rep, a strong culture and good people. Could be the marriage of the year, but all of that promise depends on the ambition, energy and talent of the people in the agency right now. But the fact is that there is now one less interesting independent company in a business that is sadly devoid of personality and character."
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Jan 2015: Charles Watson resigned as chairman of Karma Communications Group, the parent entity for UK creative agency Karmarama. He is returning to corporate consultancy to head up the international division of US firm Teneo.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Oct 2014: Ads of the Week: "God Only Knows". Sometimes we pick ads for this spot because they're notable, not because we especially like them. One such is this new epic from Karmarama for BBC Music. God only knows how the agency managed to persuade such a starry line-up to advertise the BBC's general music offering, but we suspect it was by tieing it in to the corporation's pet charity Children In Need. We're not sure how comfortable we feel about using a charity single to promote the BBC's music offering, and we find the whole exercise far too heavy on the sugar. Perhaps it's also the overly earnest repetition of the G-word, or the fact it's also so mainstream. We much preferred that original Perfect Day confection from way back in 1997.
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