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Shopper agency MARS and Y&R deepen alliance to expand in Europe, digital chief Barnett joins

Shopper marketing doesn’t sound very glamorous but the one thing clients can be relied on to do is say ‘Yes’ when they’re invited to get close to a customer wielding a shopping trolley or about to buy online.

So Independently-owned US shopper agency MARS and WPP’s Y&R are extending their relationship in a concerted attempt to attack the European market. Southfield, Michigan-based MARS struck a deal with Y&R back in 2010 to offer MARS’ services to Y&R clients in the US.

Now MARS/Y&R is targeting Europe through a new outfit in which Y&R is a ‘stakeholder.’ This may or may not mean it has actual shares in the business. And now MARS/Y&R has hired Matt Barnett (pictured), founder of digital agency Cygnite which he sold in 2005, as head of digital. Since then Barnett has worked in senior roles at a number of digital agencies.

MARS/Y&R MD Darren Keen says:“My ambition is for us to be the very best digital shopper marketing agency in Europe. Digital is quite clearly not a separate path-to-purchase but an additional way for brands and retailers to engage with and influence consumers and shoppers.

“In the year leading up to our official UK launch, we’ve worked hard focusing on defining the MARS\Y&R DNA. At our core sits focused sector knowledge, brilliant client service and heart-pumping creative. These attributes will also run through the digital offering that Matt has been tasked to define, build and integrate within the business.”

MARS/Y&R’s clients include Bacardi, Colgate-Palmolive, Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods. MARS was founded by shopper marketing agency pioneer Ken Barnett who retains control.

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