Confirmed: Publicis acquires The Creative Counsel in record deal

The Creative Counsel, South Africa’s largest advertising and marketing agency, today confirmed its acquisition by French advertising giant Publicis.

Memeburn first broke news of the acquisition back in July. While neither party has divulged how much the deal is actually worth, it is believed to be the largest in South African agency history. Memeburn understands however that the deal is worth upwards of a billion rand and could be worth as much as R1.5-billion.

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Founded in 2001 by Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved as an activations company focusing on promotions, The Creative Counsel now employs more than 1 500 full-time staff and has annual turnovers in excess of R700-million. The agency’s client list also includes big names such as Unilever, Clover, Vodacom, Microsoft, Brandhouse and Tiger Brands.

According to a press release issued by Publicis, the deal was signed as part of its bid to increase the scope of its African operations.

In the release, Publicis says it believes the acquisition will propel it “far ahead of the competition in terms of the breadth and depth of its service offering in this market, across the entire value chain”.

Read more: Publicis to acquire The Creative Counsel for ‘R1bn’ in biggest ever SA agency deal

The deal will see The Creative Counsel come under the remit of the Publicis Groupe’s agency network — headed by global CEO, Arthur Sadoun. Agency founders Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved will meanwhile report to Kevin Tromp, CEO of Publicis Africa Group.

“Publicis is increasing its equity footprint by acquiring companies that understand the complexity of marketing to the continent’s numerous unique cultures and cluster communities – all with divergent buying trends and behaviours,” says Tromp.”

“African consumers are no longer passive receivers of brand communication and have become active participants who require brands to engage them meaningfully,” he adds. “We want our clients to leverage our combined insights within Publicis Africa Group, and use our local market understanding to enable their brands to be taken to market in a relevant and engaging fashion.”

In a joint statement Neu-Ner and Oved said that the acquisition would help in their continued quest to grow activation-based marketing into the field of consumer science:

Read more: The Memeburn guide to the SA digital agency landscape

“While activations are sometimes mistakenly viewed as extensions or by-products of social media and digital advertising, their effectiveness on the ground, in terms of converting consumers into brand ambassadors and converting ideas into sales, is powerful.

“Becoming part of Publicis Worldwide enables us to scale our offering and unique blend of conceptual and executional abilities on a global scale. Publicis Worldwide are the masters of merging digital, creative, strategy and new age thinking and therefore, for us, they are the bigger brother we always wish we had.”

Sadoun meanwhile believes that with the addition of The Creative Counsel, Publicis’ clients “will have access to the most innovative ways to promote, engage and educate their target markets about their products and services. This strategic move positions Publicis Worldwide as the leading creative network in Africa, a key continent for our future development.”

This acquisition follows several others by Publicis Groupe in Africa, including Epic Communications in February 2015, as well as AG Partners, Prima, Owenkessel, MACHINE, Brandsrock, Liquorice and Lighthouse Digital in 2014. The Group has 51 partner agencies in Sub-Saharan Africa, with equity stakes in 20 of the agencies outside of South Africa, and majority ownership in a further 11 agencies in South Africa.

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