Digitas Gains Asian Foothold

BOSTON Publicis Groupe today continued its expansion in Asia and further bolstered its digital offering by acquiring CCG, one of China’s largest interactive agencies with 200 staffers and offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Upon completion of the deal, CCG will be rebranded as Digitas Greater China, marking the first significant expansion of the Boston-based digital services brand into Asia. Digitas also has a presence in the U.K. and France.

Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy called the CCG buy “a decisive step” in the holding company’s push to leverage its digital assets and better compete in the fast-growing Asian marketplace.

David Kenny, chairman of Digitas, said the fusion of CCG would bring his shop “closer to delivering our promise to clients of having best-in-class digital capabilities around the world.” Kenny has made the global expansion of Digitas a top priority, and his desire to play on the world stage drove his decision to join the Publicis network.

Terms of the CCG deal were not disclosed. CCG CEO and co-founder Neil Runcieman becomes president and managing director of Digitas Greater China. CCG clients include the Bank of China, Hitachi, HSBC Investments and Intel, among others.

Digitas will also launch Prodigious Greater China, extending its digital production arm beyond the U.S. and Europe.

In general, holding companies’ destinies have become increasingly entwined with the success of their digital operations. This is evidenced by several recent moves in the space, including last week’s decision by U.K.-based Aegis Group to merge its Carat Fusion i-shop with traditional media company Carat USA.

Paris-based Publicis completed its $1.3 billion acquisition of Digitas as the year began.

Digitas is Publicis’ most notable buy, but the company has also strengthened its hand in Italy, adding media shop Muraglia, Calzolari & Associates four weeks ago. In June, Publicis bought French Web shop Business Interactif, which it fused into Digitas.

Other ’07 acquisitions include U.S. shops Pharmagistics (a medical marketing specialist) and the McGinn Group (a strategic consultancy) and China’s Yong Tang, a marketing-services company.