Digitas - known as DigitasLBi until 2018 - is one of the world's biggest pure-play digital agency networks. Part of Publicis Groupe, the business was formed in 2013 from the acquisition by Publicis of LBi and its merger into the Digitas network, purchased seven years earlier. The latter began life as a direct marketing specialist, but moved heavily into the interactive sector in the late 1990s. Still independent by the early 2000s, it extended its size and range of services in 2004 with the acquisition of another leading digital design agency Modem.Media. At the end of 2006, Publicis agreed to acquire the combined business for $1.3bn, and continued to expand the Digitas network over the following few years with the bolt-on of offices in other key markets such as the UK, France, China and Brazil. The merger of Digitas and LBi combined each network's offices in most countries. However, the continuing expansion of Publicis Groupe's digital capabilities has seen DigitasLBi's dominance gradually diminished. It remains a substantial business, but was eclipsed within the group after 2016 by the newly created Publicis.Sapient entity. In 2017, DigitasLBi was shifted out of Publicis.Sapient for reporting purposes, becoming part of Publicis Media.
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Adbrands Social Media 21st Jun 2018: Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Creative Data was awarded to DigitasLBi for a socially responsible marketing programme for household appliance maker Whirlpool. In this case, it's the discovery that access to clean clothes at high school and college encourages attendance and therefore higher achievements among students. This year more than ever it seems it's the worthwhile campaigns that are cutting through the froth at Cannes. That should certainly make the industry proud of itself in these challenging times.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Mar 2018: Publicis Groupe has dumped the "LBi" tag for the international operations of what was previously DigitasLBi. All outposts now become Digitas, in line with the main US division. The DigitasLBi construct was formed by the merger of US-centric Digitas with the more international LBi in 2013.
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th April 2017: A High Court judge found in favour of the former shareholders of London-based CRM agency Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw in their suit against Publicis Groupe. He awarded the claimants compensation of £2.6m - about £1m less than they had asked for - but has yet to rule on costs. If these are also awarded in favour of the claimants it could cost Publicis up to another £2m. KNAS was acquired by Publicis in 2011 and merged with the local office of Digitas. The partners said they were not informed at the time of the deal that Digitas UK was not only heavily reliant on revenues from key client P&G, but also that those accounts were expected to transfer to other agencies within the group. The subsequent loss of that business severely impacted on their earn-out. "It could all have been so different," commented Paul Kitcatt. "Publicis depends on absorbing new creative agencies into its network. They need the new blood to keep their network alive. Yet they show no creativity in their business practices. If they had come clean at first about the threat from the ad agencies, we could have defended the business. If they had cut a new deal quickly and stuck to it, we could have focused on winning new business, not on endless finicky negotiations with shadowy figures in Paris. And if, all else having failed, they had made us a decent, honourable offer to settle this case, we would not have endured months of legal arguments, and a great deal of expense."
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Feb 2017: Publicis Groupe is embroiled in the UK in an embarrassing lawsuit brought by eight former shareholders of Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw, the digital & CRM agency acquired in 2011 and merged with the local office of Digitas. The claimants, led by Paul Kitcatt and Marc Nohr, are suing Publicis for £4.9m in unpaid earn-outs and £3.6m in damages for breach of contract. The KNAS partners say they were not informed at the time of the deal that Digitas UK was not only heavily reliant on revenues from key client P&G, but also that those accounts were expected to transfer to other agencies within Publicis. The subsequent loss of that business severely impacted on their earn-out. Publicis is defending the lawsuit.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Dec 2015: Another big "mediapalooza" review reached its conclusion with the decision by L'Oreal USA to consolidate all its US media planning and buying with GroupM's MEC. The WPP-owned shop had previously managed local planning for selected luxury brands, but now wins digital from Publicis network DigitasLBi and TV and print from Interpublic's UM. Billings are estimated at around $850m annually. It is MEC's biggest win by far this year. Publicis Groupe moved quickly to limit negative media coverage over another account loss so soon after the P&G decision last week, pointing out that the L'Oreal digital business represented only 0.1% of its annual revenues, or little more than $10m.
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