WPP, Blast Radius Complete Deal

NEW YORK WPP Group has continued its addition of interactive assets, completing its acquisition of Canadian digital shop Blast Radius.

The holding company is aligning Blast Radius with marketing services network Wunderman. Blast Radius specializes in building Web sites and interactive experiences for clients like Nike, Whirlpool and Electronic Arts.

“The shift of dollars that is into that channel is accelerating,” said Daniel Morel, Wunderman’s CEO. “We need to acquire additional bulk to service our clients in that channel.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Decade-old Blast Radius had an estimated $43 million in revenue in 2006 and employs about 350 people in offices in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, San Francisco and London.

Blast Radius will retain its management team, led by founder and CEO Gurval Caer.

“At the core of Wunderman lies phenomenal customer data and insights, which when combined with our interactive customer engagement strategies allow us to bring brands and people together like never before,” Caer said in a statement.

WPP Group has been an active player in the acquisition market. It spent $649 million to purchase ad technology firm 24/7 Real Media and digital shops Refinery, which became part of G2 Worldwide, and Schematic. It has also made investments in several emerging media startup firms.

Blast Radius had several suitors, per sources, including private equity firms. It held talks with Omnicom that would have made it part of the TBWA network and also discussed a deal to join Publicis Groupe via Saatchi & Saatchi. The ranks of independent digital shops have been thinned by acquisition over the last year, as large shops like Digitas and Avenue A/Razorfish have been purchased.

Wunderman has added digital capabilities to fortify its traditional direct marketing and customer relationship management expertise. It has also added Aqua Online in South Africa and These Days in Belgium. Wunderman also owns VML.

Morel said clients like Citibank, Burger King and Microsoft are moving additional budgets from traditional channels to reach customers online.

“They’re moving large amounts of communication dollars online so we need to add resources and complete our footprint,” he said.