Ripple Effect: Barkley Buys I-Shop

BOSTON Independent Barkley said it has acquired Ripple Effects, a 42-person interactive agency with 2007 revenue of $5.5 million, and rebranded the shop BarkleyREI.

The agency specializes in the travel and tourism, higher education and nonprofit categories, serving clients including Pennsylvania Tourism, U.S. National Park Service, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Ad Council, Carnegie Mellon University and Vanderbilt University.

BarkleyREI will be based in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, adding an East Coast presence for Kansas City-based Barkley. The shop’s existing interactive unit will autonomously continue to handle clients such as Sonic Drive-In, March of Dimes, Minute Rice and Lee Jeans, among others.

“As part of our growth strategy, Barkley has committed itself to acquiring like-minded agencies that are independent thinkers and place a high priority on creative thinking,” said Brian Brooker, CEO and chief creative officer of Barkley, in a statement. “Ripple Effects demonstrates all of those qualities. They will make an invaluable addition to our company.”

Paul Magnani, president of Ripple Effects, said Barkley’s scale and commitment to attracting premium talent made it a good fit. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In the past two years, marketing firms large and small have been strengthening their interactive capabilities in order to leverage opportunities in the fast-growing e-marketing space. The most noteworthy examples are Publicis Groupe, which purchased Digitas as ’07 began and made several other i-shop buys as the year progressed, and WPP Group, which absorbed 24/7 Real Media.