Now it’s Omnicom’s turn to splash the cash as it lines up bid for Communispace

Boston-based Communispace is hardly a household name but, according to my old chum Stuart Smith, it’s about to receive a $100m bid from Omnicom which is reported to have recently raised $1bn for such acquisitions.

Communispace, founded by Harvard MBA Diane Hessan in 1999, specialises in creating and understanding online communities for its clients who include most of the big names, from Coca-Cola to Unilever.

So far 2010 has been unusually quiet on the bids and deals front (in adland anyway) as the marcoms companies have concentrated on restoring their margins after two years of recession.

Publicis Groupe has been the most active, buying small agencies in China and Latin America, while media buyer Aegis pulled off the biggest deal, buying Australia’s Mitchell Communication for around £200m.

Publicis has also made the most ground strategically with its Vivaki technology-driven media ‘trading desk’ grabbing a big share of the global online market. This is presumably a consequence, in part at least, of its purchase of Razorfish from Microsoft for $530m 18 months ago.

Omnicom has never been an acquisition-driven outfit although it will be uncomfortably aware that its caution has resulted in it dropping back below WPP as the world’s biggest marcoms outfit (Publicis Groupe is number three).

Communispace, which turns over a mere $47m, is hardly likely to remedy this but it would enhance the company’s presence in the technology-meets-marketing space which is being attacked by Google, Apple and Microsoft.

But we’re still waiting for a big transformational deal and Publicis buying Interpublic and someone buying Aegis remain the two favourites.

Rather smaller, but no less significant, would be a bid for UK indy Mother which has quietly evolved from a local hotshop originally based in London’s trendy Clerkenwell to a desirable destination for global accounts.

Its thriving New York office recently won Diageo’s global Tanqueray gin account in a shake-up that also saw Captain Morgan go to the ever-controversial Anomaly.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.