Dentsu Makes U.S. Move With Attik Deal

NEW YORK In keeping with the industry’s ongoing interest in digital acquisitions while making good on its promise to bolster its U.S. presence, Dentsu America has purchased San Francisco-based Attik. first reported the acquisition on Oct. 26.

Attik, the digital and design shop that launched Toyota’s Scion brand in the U.S. in 2003, will remain a separate operating unit within Dentsu. Scion is Attik’s largest client and Dentsu, which counts Toyota as one of its largest U.S. clients, already handles Scion’s Web site.

“The mandate for Dentsu America is to grow the Dentsu brand. The most important factor in making our acquisitions is to find the best possible talent,” said Tim Andree, who was named CEO of Dentsu America in May 2006. “Attik has a tremendous creative reputation and history and is admired for its digital output and work with Gen Y consumers. This augments what we have already done in the last 16 months in building our team and adds to the resources we can offer our clients.”

Those who know Andree, a former Toyota exec, say he has made little secret of the fact he wants to increase Dentsu’s share of the automaker’s business in the U.S. Toyota is one of the Tokyo company’s largest clients in Japan. Ironically, around the world, Toyota’s primary agency is Saatchi & Saatchi, a unit of Publicis Groupe, the French holding company, in which Dentsu is the largest shareholder.

The Attik acquisition is expected to close Oct. 30. Terms are undisclosed.

In addition to Toyota, Attik works for clients such as Boost cell phones, ExpressJet and, in the U.K., Coca-Cola and Adidas. Attik’s U.S. operations account for 90 percent of its revenue.

Attik’s management team is expected to remain in place and the shop will continue to be headquartered in San Francisco. Its West Hollywood, Calif., office will move into Dentsu’s Santa Monica, Calif., location and, in New York, the agency’s operations will migrate to Dentsu’s TriBeCa space.

Attik was founded as a graphic design firm in Huddersfield, England, in 1986 by Simon Needham and James Sommerville. The art students so named the company because they set up their business in Sommerville’s grandmother’s attic. Needham, now based in San Francisco, will remain Attik’s creative director and Sommerville, located in Leeds, England, will be its U.K. cd. Richard Peralta, Attik’s group CEO, will become president of Attik in the U.S. William Travis, president of Attik’s U.S. operations, becomes vice president.

Andree said that, with the addition of Attik, Dentsu America is nearly double the size it was when he took the CEO job. In addition to Toyota, Dentsu works for clients like Canon USA, HarperCollins, Sage Software, Bandai Toys and Newton Vineyards. Despite being in the U.S. market since 1966, Dentsu has not been able to carve out a significant profile and Andree, the first non-Japanese CEO in the U.S., was brought in to create an American identity for an agency widely perceived as a service operation for Dentsu’s Japanese accounts. In addition to organic growth, Andree is seeking acquisitions to build Dentsu’s profile, with Attik the first such purchase. Andree has also brought in execs like Ogilvy & Mather group cd Mike Wilson as Dentsu America’s CCO to carve out an image for Dentsu, a no-show on the industry’s creative landscape.

This story updates an item posted on Oct. 26 with agency confirmation, comments and additional information.