Nitro Poised to Acquire N.Y. Shop

NEW YORK Nitro, an up-and-coming creative independent, is close to acquiring AKA Advertising, a small New York shop dominated by the Foot Locker account, sources said.

“That’s not entirely true yet. The conversations are not complete. Call me next week,” said AKA co-founder Arie Kovant, declining further comment.

AKA was named Footlocker’s lead agency in June, 2001. The agency had handled client business on a project basis for the previous two years. AKA works for several divisons of the company, including Kids Foot Locker and Lady Foot Locker. The client spent $12 million last year in measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Nitro founder Chris Clarke is traveling and could not immediately be reached for comment. The shop launched in Shanghai in 2002. Nitro’s Asian work on Mars led to a Masterfoods assignment in the U.S. The agency opened a New York outpost in 2004.

The agency’s London office that is a finalist, in tandem with Havas’ Arnold, for the $150 million Volvo business. Publicis Groupe’s Fallon is the other Volvo finalist.

Clarke, an Australian ad exec, first forged ties with Mars when he ran his Pure Creative Asia-Pacific network, which he later sold to D’Arcy.

In China, the agency has also made inroads with marketers like Unilever and InBev. Nitro also operates offices in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; Hong Kong; and Taipei, Taiwan.

Nitro now looks to expand its footprint in the U.S. through the pending AKA acquisition.

Clarke is a former theater, music video and documentary director.