While we’re still waiting for 2012’s big deal WPP snaps up French data firm

WPP is to buy a majority stake in French digital data and campaign technology marketing group Predictys. Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Grenoble, Predictys has a co-operative database which includes information from 140m opted-in consumers sourced from about 25 partners.

Most of its clients are affiliation networks that use it as a third-party provider to supply their own clients with direct marketing services. It generated sales of €3.36m in the 2011.

As such Predictys is a minnow but part of a pattern at WPP as it tries to expand its Kantar research business to the point where its various products are unavoidable for big marketers. Predictys will become part of WPP’s ‘knowledge-based’ marketing solutions group KBM.

We’re nearly halfway through 2012 and we’re still waiting for even a medium-sized deal from WPP, although there’ve been loads of small ones. Might CEO Sir Martin Sorrell (left) pull one out of his hat in time for the company’s June 13 AGM in Dublin where shareholders are waiting to discuss his pay package? Sorrell said earlier in the year that he had about £400m to spend on acquisitions this year but business is booming at WPP and he could go much higher.

One possibility is Lord Bell’s Chime Communications, currently deciding whether or not to let Bell and partner Piers Pottinger buy out its Bell Pottinger PR businesses. WPP owns 20 per cent of Chime and opposes the buy-out deal but is likely to delay any move until Bell makes a firm offer for the PR businesses.

The jewel in the Chime crown is ad agency VCCP which has built on its success with Comparethemarket’s meerkats to add Easyjet and Coors. It has also made it on to the final list for the £110m Tesco account along with WPP’s JWT, Wieden+Kennedy and TBWA.

WPP has a full hand of ad agencies in the UK with JWT, Ogilvy, Grey, RKCR/Y&R and 49 per cent of CHI & Partners. But JWT is currently languishing in the lower reaches of the top 20 (back in the day it used to be number one) and might “need some help” (Sorrell’s phrase to Campaign describing Omnicom’s decision to pay £60m for Adam & Eve and roll it into DDB London). This is exactly what WPP did with flaggng Y&R when it bought Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe in 1999.

Ogilvy too has been a lacklustre UK performer in creative terms for years now (for ever really). It recently lost CEO Hugh Baillie, a former BBH account man who became just the latest in a long line of managers who trekked down to Ogilvy’s Canary Wharf HQ only to head back to town wiser, although not very much older.

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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.