WPP, a world leader in marketing communications, announced on the 20th June that it has agreed to acquire the assets of global digital agency AKQA. AKQA was founded in 2001 and is now the world’s leading independent and most awarded digital agency famed for its’ innovative approach and outstanding creativity. Since formation 11 years ago, AKQA quickly established a reputation as an agency to watch; combining creativity and technology, the agency provides integrated digital communications campaigns spanning social media, mobile, interactive experiences, gaming and content creation for a diverse array of clients including Delta, Diageo, EDF, GAP, Google, Microsoft Xbox, Nike, Target, Unilever and Virgin Money.
AKQA has stated its company values to be: Innovation, Service, Quality and Thought. In the book The On-Demand Brand AKQA’s CEO Tom Bedecarré is quoted saying “There are a lot of advertising people who want to hang onto the past, want to hang onto 30-second television commercials and full-color magazine ads. [But] you [now need to] have software engineers and technology people as part of the creative team if you want to connect with what people are doing.”
AKQA has had numerous awards and international recognition for its creative expertise, including 19 Agency of the Year titles. In 2011, AKQA won Digital Agency of the Year accolades in both the US (Adweek) and the UK (Campaign) and collected five Cannes Lions. Campaign’s defined the agency’s qualities as “a perfect example of how specialist agencies continue to set the standard in digital communications. AKQA continues to offer a powerful combination of technological craft and emotive creativity that few other agencies can even reach for. AKQA’s record in technological innovation, coupled with design, creativity and business acumen, is breathtaking.” (via Campaign)
AKQA currently employs 1160 people worldwide and operates offices in the US San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Shanghai. At 31 December 2011 the agency had gross assets of $282 million and forecasts revenues of around $230 million in 2012, following $189 million in 2011.
Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP said: “We are thrilled to welcome AKQA’s unique team of technological innovators and entrepreneurs to WPP. We have admired their creativity and technological skills for a long time along with their outstandingly effective and award-winning work for clients. We are looking forward to working with Ajaz and Tom to broaden their offer and our own, both geographically and functionally. We are delighted to be united!” (via WPP). Ajaz Ahmed, co-founder of AKQA said “With increased resources and access to new geographies, our partnership with WPP will fuel the next level of energy, excitement and opportunity, delivering innovation and creativity at scale,”(via WPP).
Tom Bedecarre, commented “We are delighted to preserve AKQA’s independent culture and maintain focus on serving our clients. Today we are celebrating joining WPP and tomorrow our teams will be back to business as usual.”
Here, Sir Martin Sorrell talks to The Drum about the AKQA aquisition from Cannes 2012:
AKQA plans to continue as an independent brand within WPP, led by founder and CEO Ajaz Ahmed and Chairman Tom Bedecarre. Tom will also become President of WPP Ventures, a new Silicon Valley-based company, which will explore new digital investment opportunities for WPP as a whole, with other appointments to the Board of WPP Ventures will be made in due course.