JWT took another step toward becoming a digital-centric agency this week with its acquisition of Digitaria, a San Diego-based digital agency of about 100 people.
Digitaria's strength lies in technology and emerging media, and counts Qualcomm, NBC, Dreamworks, and ESPN among its clients. The company, founded in 1997, has additional offices in New York and Los Angeles. It is unclear whether those will stay open following the acquisition.
Digitaria will keep its name and operate as an independent unit of JWT. CEO Dan Khabie, 37, will keep his title and report to David Eastman, JWT North America CEO and worldwide digital director.
"Digitaria has a proven track record," Eastman said in a written statement, "and we are thrilled to welcome 100 digital experts to JWT." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
For Digitaria, the acquisition means "the opportunity to really expand ourselves to the global landscape and really bring our digital know-how to a company that's looking to expand their digital capacity," said Christopher Book, the agency's director of marketing.
At 146 years old, JWT is among the longest-surviving - and largest - ad agencies in the world. In recent years, it has been on a mission to "put digital at the center of everything we do," as chairman and worldwide CEO Bob Jeffrey told the Wall Street Journal in March.
To that end, it installed digital director Eastman as North American CEO in March. "You cannot talk about brands, creativity, and ideas these days without talking about technology, digital, and media," said Jeffrey at the time.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014