Publicis Builds Mobile Unit with Euro Acquisition

After several years of collaboration with pure-play European mobile marketing firm Phonevalley, Publicis acquired the agency to build a mobile marketing arm. The mobile unit will work closely with Publicis units Starcom Mediavest Group and ZenithOptimedia while maintaining its identity.

Phonevalley’s strengths lie in SMS and MMS-based campaigns, building WAP sites, and banner ads and keyword-based mobile media buying. The Paris-based agency operates in France, the U.K., Spain, Germany, and Italy.

The objective of the newly-formed mobile communication platform is to build a network dedicated to mobile communication, said Nick Pahade, executive director of digital development at Publicis, and president of its Denuo unit.

Phonevalley will maintain its brand under the Publicis flag, and while it stands as a separate unit, it will work closely with other channels to build complete campaigns for clients. “Now it’s really part of the digital world,” said Alexandre Mars, head of mobile at Publicis Groupe. “It’s important to provide a 360 degree proposal. It’s no longer the Web; now it’s Web plus mobile.”

Expansion plans under Publicis include neighboring European countries and eventually other continents. “The first step for us is to build a strong foundation for Europe,” he said. “We will talk soon to development in other continents than Europe. Asia and the U.S. are strong [and] could be very interesting to go to.”

Previous and existing clients include Paramount, Virgin, Mondadori, The PhoneHouse, Air France, Colgate Palmolive, Sony, Canal+, and Universal. Mars said the group is also free to work with outside agencies. Technology advancements are another order of business.

We really want to develop and keep developing technologies,” Mars said. “We really want to know what’s coming.” Areas of interest include mobile couponing and payment technologies in Europe and Asia. ”

Publicis Groupe Media board members Nick Pahade and Adrian Sayliss were both appointed to the Phonevalley board to ensure proper integration with the agency.

At the time of the acquisition, Phonevalley had 60 employees; all are expected to stay on. Consolidation of offices into Publicis locations will be decided on a country-by-country basis.

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