Japan’s kyu Acquires Sid Lee

By Patrick Coffee 

Sid Lee, the independent agency that recently made headlines by hiring pretty much everyone to work at its New York office, has been acquired by kyu, the “strategic operating unit” of Japan’s Hakuhodo DY Holdings.

kyu came to life last year following the appointment of CEO Michael Birkin, a former Omnicom vice chairman who joined Japan’s second-largest holding company (after Dentsu) when it purchased his company Red Peak Group. Digital Kitchen and SY/Partners later joined Red Peak as part of kyu’s “international portfolio of marketing services companies.”

On the acquisition, Birkin writes:

“Sid Lee is all about conceiving, creating, and producing transformative experiences communicated across all contact points.

Sid Lee is a linchpin of our strategy and having its roots in the highly creative Montréal community is a massive bonus.”

From agency CEO Jean-Francois Bouchard:

“kyu is right for us in so many ways…we will build Sid Lee into a fully deployed global brand and network over the next decade.”

Executive Chairman Bertrand Cesvet also positions the move as part of a larger expansion:

“We were looking for the proper way to expand our footprint to Asia while solidly maintaining our headquarters in Montréal.

We will also grow our Montréal operation to be able to support our expanding network.”

The Sid Lee organization, which also has offices in Toronto, Amsterdam and Paris, includes production house Jimmy Lee and “a 49 percent stake in architectural unit Sid Lee Architecture”; it currently employs more than 500 people across its offices and it has been named “Agency of the Year” by Marketing Magazine four times since 2009. Big-name clients include Absolut, AXE and Intel.

The release tells us that all of Sid Lee’s current executive team will remain in place, but we have no word on what effect, if any, the acquisition will have on the rest of the agency’s operations and staff.