Publicis Makes Another Buy in Asia

BOSTON Publicis Groupe continued its expansion efforts and added to its Asian holdings with the acquisition of W&K Communications, a full-service agency in China (not affiliated with Wieden + Kennedy).

Moving forward, the 100-person shop will be known as Leo Burnett Beijing Advertising and operate as part of Publicis’ Chicago-based Burnett agency network. Guo Weijun, chairman, and Wang Yi, managing director, continue to lead operations, reporting to Michael Wood, CEO of Leo Burnett Greater China. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The agency provides advertising, promotions, TV production and media-buying services for clients such as Air China, Mengniu (a dairy), Yutong (a bus company), Daliyuan and Holiland (food), PICC (insurance) and Tsingtao Beer.

“We will not only increase our market share, but we will create ideas that will connect with people and impact their behavior in a relevant, interesting and useful way. I anticipate great things from this partnership,” said Tom Bernardin, global chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett.

Asia has been a key market for acquisitions by Publicis in the past several years, with recent additions including i-shop EmporioAsia in May, CCG in 2007 and Betterway Marketing in 2006.

In addition to the desire to get an early foothold in an expanding market, the Paris-based holding company has been active in the region because of the upcoming Shanghai World Expo and Asia Games, which are expected to stimulate high demand for local ads for the next two years.

In general, Publciis’ has reaped gains from its expansionist strategy, posting solid numbers through Q3 ’08, though the company has warned of a slow finish to the year and “rough times ahead” owing to the troubled world economy.