Digitas - known as DigitasLBi until 2018 - is one of the world's biggest digital agency networks, with a footprint of 55 offices spread across 30 countries. 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 it 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, though it continues to offer creative as well as media. Several other digital agencies under the wider Groupe umbrella have also been absorbed into the network; for example, Pixelpark in Germany, now Digitas Pixelpark. AdAge estimated global revenues of $576m in 2019, of which $426m was generated in the US.
Capsule checked 28th August 2020
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Historical profile information for Digitas
Adbrands Daily Update 20th Aug 2019: Mondelez completed its global creative review. The bulk of the group's business will be consolidated into WPP and Publicis Groupe, but Mondelez will retain a roster of "guest specialist" agencies to work on key brands. For the most part, confectionery as well as a small collection of powdered beverage and cheese brands still licensed from Kraft Heinz will be managed worldwide by Ogilvy, with support as required from other aligned WPP agencies such as David. However, VCCP retains its role on the global Cadbury brand as well as a few unspecified "local jewels" in the UK. Biscuits and gum brands will be handled worldwide by Publicis Groupe, with Digitas acting as lead agency, coordinating contributions from its various sister networks within Publicis Communications. But The Martin Agency will retain its role on the global Oreo brand while BETC will continue to handle the Lu biscuit portfolio in France and other Western European markets. Major losers in the review appear to be Martin's Interpublic stablemate FCB as well as Wieden & Kennedy which had managed several European confectionery brands; also BBDO and Romance in several European markets and French independent Buzzman.
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.
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