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M&C Saatchi snaps up Dalmatian Advertisng

M&C Saatchi has on Tuesday announced that it had acquired Dalmatian Advertising, a small Cape Town-based agency.

Formerly known as Domino Digital, the agency’s clients include I&J, Falke, and MiWay and was reportedly acquired to operate “conflict business” alongside the UK-based company’s existing South African presence M&C Saatchi Abel.

For those not familiar with the industry, that means Dalmation Digital can take on clients who operate in competition with M&C Saatchi’s current client base.

The company was founded in 2011, by Clinton Bridgeford, Bruce Norris, Leon Potgieter, and Gabrielle Weinstein. The founding team has since been joined by another partner in the shape of Jodi Sher

As was the case with Creative Spark*, which M&C Saatchi bought out in late 2015, Dalmatian Digital will continue to operate as an independent business, but will be overseen by M&C Saatchi Abel head Mike Abel.

Although digital is at the core of what Dalmatian does, it actually regards itself as a through-the-line agency, TV, radio, design, strategy, digital, social media and brand activation. While other South African companies in the M&C Saatchi group offer some of those services, few offer all of them.

“With so many opportunities in the South African market,” says Moray MacLennan, CEO of the global M&C Saatchi network, “it has become increasingly important for the group to have another quality offering to provide holistic communications solutions.”

According to the Business Day, Abel expects big things from Dalmatian and wants it to have a presence in Johannesburg by 2017.

“It is designed to be SA’s next great medium-sized agency,” he says. “The fact that it is a digital agency by birth puts it in a strong position. It’s harder for a traditional agency to move into digital than the other way round.”

In the Business Day report, Weinstein reveals that Dalmation has been looking for an acquisition partner for some time now.

“We never went into this business to be small,” she says. “It’s very difficult to develop without a group around you. You hit a growth ceiling and can’t get some clients. It was always a question of who we would partner. I’m a big admirer of what Mike has done in SA and my partners and I think this is the ideal fit.”

The deal sees M&C Saatchi take a 50.1% stake in the company, with the founders holding 23% and empowerment partners 26%.

According to Abel, while the two companies will operate independently, they will be mindful of each other. The most likely scenario is that Dalmatian will chase small to medium sized accounts, while M&C Saatchi Abel will go after the larger ones.

No value has been put on the deal.

*Creative Spark is the holding company for Memeburn.

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself to be thrown in the deep and did his best to stay afloat. When not fused with his keyboard, you can find... More