The marcoms world is becoming rather more interesting (no sniggering at the back please) as some new(ish) entrants make their mark.
The old hegemony of WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and Interpublic is being challenged by the likes of Havas – revitalised under Bollore family ownership – and Dentsu, whose £3.6bn buy of media buyer Aegis seems to be paying off.
Then we have Miles Nadal’s MDC Partners which owns a bevy of highly-regarded creative agencies including Anomaly, KBS, 72andSunny and Crispin Porter. MDC is even inching towards that elusive goal (if indeed it is a goal for Nadal) – a profit. We mustn’t forget South Korea’s Cheil either.
The really interesting one, though, is China’s BlueFocus Communications which has just announced a net profit of $115m in 2014 on revenues of $965m, up a dizzying 67 per cent over the previous year.
BlueFocus began as a PR operation, which it still is, and bought a stake in the UK’s Huntsworth. It then bought a majority in UK-based We Are Social, not a PR agency although social media agencies are eating PR agencies’ lunch these days as corporates obsess with Facebook and Twitter.
Last year BlueFocus switched its focus to the US, buying into design outfit FuseProject and, its biggest deal, Vision 7’s Cossette agency group based in Canada. It also installed former tech executive Holly Zheng (left) as its first international president, based in San Francisco.
BlueFocus makes no bones about its ambition, which is to: “become the only Chinese player capable of providing marketing services to support Chinese companies globally.”
So far this hasn’t been a massive market because because Chinese companies have majored on providing white label goods for other brands or infrastructure. But it will be. It’s one reason why the aforementioned Western marcoms companies have invested so heavily in Chinese outposts. Yes, they want to help flog Western brands in China but they also want to get close to Chinese companies. BlueFocus, and others who will surely follow, might prove more adept at the latter.
BlueFocus says it plans to raise revenue to $1.5bn in 2015. So more deals are surely on the cards.