Publicis Buys Korean I-Shop

BOSTON Publicis Groupe continues to build its digital offering and expand in Asia through the acquisition of Portfolio, an interactive marketing shop in South Korea.

The 10-year-old company — known for Web site development and maintenance, online ad campaigns and search and database marketing — becomes part of Publicis Modem, which has offices throughout Asia. Publicis Modem is the global digital arm of the Publicis Worldwide agency network.

Key clients of the newly acquired firm include Microsoft’s Korean operations, Marriott, Nissan, Estee Lauder, Epson and top local players such as Choongwae Pharmaceutical.

The shop’s founder and CEO, Heewoon Park, remains head of the 70-person agency. In a statement, he said joining Publicis “gives us the international scale we’ve been looking for.” Terms were not disclosed.

Publicis said expanding its presence in Korea makes sense because it is a high-growth market with nearly 15 million broadband subscribers representing almost 80 percent of all households. (The Paris-based holding company already has several operations in the market, including Publicis Welcomm, Publicis Dialog, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi and Starcom Mediavest.)

Martin Reidy, CEO of Publicis Modem, said: “Asia is a critical market for Publicis Modem and a key part of our global expansion. We were committed to finding a group with the passion, creative innovation and technical acumen synonymous with the Publicis Modem brand. The team at Portfolio fit the bill exactly.”

Since its $1.3 billion purchase of i-shop Digitas as 2007 began, Publicis has engineered numerous acquisitions, launches and reorganizations to better align itself in the digital space. Most recently, the company last month established VivaKi, a cross-agency initiative to help the company and its clients better navigate the interactive landscape.