Interpublic Snags Big Stake in Huge

Huge, a nine-year-old interactive agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and London, is now a part of something that’s huge itself: The Interpublic Group (IPG).

The global agency holding company has acquired a 51 percent interest in Huge for an undisclosed sum. IPG spokesman Tom Cunningham said Huge was of interest to Interpublic because of its innovative and comprehensive approach to online efforts.

Huge, with 130 employees and some big-brand clients including IKEA, NutriSystem, Scholastic, JetBlue and The Warner Music Group aims to create complete online businesses, not just Web sites, said Huge partner Aaron Shapiro.

“What we find is that, increasingly, for a lot of large companies and brands, their Web site is less a marketing brochure and more of an online business that gets varying amounts of traffic and is monetized by consumer purchases or ads, if it’s an ad-supported business,” said Shapiro. “To make these succeed, you first have to make it structured for business goals and also to be embraced by users.”

He said Huge has built some of the most complicated Web sites in existence, adding the IPG deal will help it expand internationally.

“More of our clients are demanding global solutions for their digital work,” said Shapiro. “Secondly, IPG recognizes that many of its clients are in situations where they need help building online businesses and we are very excited to help those companies succeed online.”

Interpublic has been in something of a lull in terms of acquisitions, but the Huge deal comes a day after Interpublic announced it increased, to 51 percent, its stake in the Dubai-based Middle East Communication Networks (MCN). In October, Interpublic acquired New York-based branded entertainment company Translation Consulting + Brand Imaging. In April 2007, Interpublic acquired search marketing specialist Reprise Media.

Huge will continue operating under the leadership of partners David Skokna, Sasha Kirovski, Gene Liebel and Shapiro.

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