Avenue A/Razorfish Buys a Footprint in Japan

Avenue A/Razorfish has continued its overseas acquisition tear with a major investment in Dentsu subsidiary Digital Pallette. Under the deal, the agency will change its name to Dentsu/Avenue A/Razorfish, giving the aQuantive-owned digital marketing services company its first presence in the world’s second-largest economy.

Digital Palette is historically focused on planning and production for online content, but is in the process of building account and media buying services, according to the companies. aQuantive’s Avenue A/Razorfish, meanwhile, has been hungry for a Japanese outpost for some time. It began discussions with Dentsu, the country’s largest advertising business and the world’s approximately fifth largest, about a year ago.

Plans for Dentsu/Avenue A/Razorfish include cross-selling existing domestic U.S. clients on their Japanese business, according to Clark Kokich, the agency’s worldwide president.

“As our large clients seek global solutions, we absolutely had to have an answer in Japan,” he said.

Other recent international acquisitions for Avenue A/Razorfish include e-Crusade in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Neue Digitale in Germany, Amnesia in Australia and DNA in the U.K.

Finding good — and willing — interactive agencies to acquire is an ever more challenging process, Kokich said.

“When you go into these markets, you’re lucky if you can find one or two really high quality independent agencies,” he said. “We’ve been really fortunate; in every case where we’ve found a company that we thought could play at the level we’re looking for, they were as excited as we were about it.”

AQuantive, meanwhile, remains one of the few publicly traded independent interactive marketing firms left in the U.S. One of its peers in that small club is Digitas, which recently agreed to be acquired by Publicis.

“I think there’s room for at least one global independent interactive agency, and we’re absolutely convinced we can compete as an independent,” said Kokich.

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