Publicis Preps for China Internet Boom with Agency Buy

EmporioAsia, a digital marketing agency based in Shanghai, China, is now owned by Paris-based Publicis Groupe, which said the acquisition will help it serve China’s fast-growing Internet economy.

Publicis Groupe, the parent company of Digitas, Starcom MediaVest Group, ZenithOptimedia Groupe and Leo Burnett, is changing the agency’s name to EmporioAsia Leo Burnett. The company’s current CEO, Vincent Kobler, is staying at the helm, according to the Publicis Groupe announcement. It said the newly-acquired company will operate “alongside” Arc Worldwide “under the Leo Burnett China umbrella.”

EmporioAsia was formed in 1999 and has a staff of 35. It specializes in online strategy, search marketing and analytics, and creative projects including Web sites and rich media. The company’s roster of clients includes Hilton Hotels, China Eastern Airlines, Philips, Shangri-la Hotels, Parrot and ING bank.

In announcing the deal, Publicis Groupe said the acquisition “immediately boosts” EmporioAsia’s strategic, production and creative capabilities in digital advertising and marketing. It noted that China had 150 million Internet users last year and is on track to surpass the United States by next year in terms of people online.

“Today, online ads capture around 2 percent of ad spend in China, compared to 4 to 5 percent in the U.S.,” said the Publicis Groupe announcement. “The growth potential for the medium is clearly huge: While roughly half of the U.S. population is actively using the Internet today, between just 10 and 15 percent of the Chinese population is currently plugged in.”

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