Meredith Goes Abroad

Martin Reidy Explains Iris Investment

Meredith Corp. has made yet another ad agency investment with a minority stake in Iris Worldwide, but unlike the company's earlier ventures, this one is notable for its international footprint.

London-based Iris employs nearly 800 people around the world, with a big presence in Europe and Asia. Its clients include Shell, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson, and Unilever.

Along with the investment, Meredith Integrated Marketing unveiled a new name for the b-to-b unit: Meredith Xcelerated Marketing.

Martin Reidy, president of MXM, said the goal was to meet clients’ demand for more global coverage and that Iris’ digital services, with Meredith’s mobile and social specialists, would let it serve them with one point of contact.

He said Meredith also was drawn to Iris because of its point-of-purchase marketing chops.

“It’s a very hot topic with our clients,” he said. “We were really looking for a strong digital marketing agency, and at the same time we were thinking about shopping marketing.”

Reidy said that over time, Meredith would work towards guaranteeing results to Iris clients, similar to an initiative the company is doing with its magazines like Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle.

Iris could eventually become a part of Meredith, in the same way that another agency, The Hyperfactory, started as a minority investment and later became fully owned by Meredith.

Reidy said while that is the goal, starting by taking a stake is helpful in determining if the two companies will be a good fit.

“I've done a lot of acquisitions," he said. "You don’t know how well you’re going to work, especially in the beginning. It’s a way of managing the unknown until you figure out: Will this work or not?”