Draft Buys Agency in Continued European Expansion

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NEW YORK - DraftWorldwide continued its global buying spree last month with the acquisition of yet another agency in the UK - London-based DRS Advertising, which specialized in DRTV and new media.


The acquisition gives Draft a presence in London it has not had for some time since the agency's British operations are headquartered outside Oxford in Oxfordshire.


At the end of last year it added Marketing Principles, a sales promotion firm, to LVB Draft Worldwide, an agency it purchased in the mid-nineties after its previous London operation failed to catch fire.


"We've been very successful in integrating Marketing Principles into our Oxfordshire operations and created an office there with 75 people," said Jordan Rednor, the agency's COO in charge of global expansion.


He also noted that London is the UK's "key business center and we felt we needed some immediate representation there. We were acquainted with DRS, whose DRTV strength is a good fit with our other capabilities.


"In Oxfordshire we are strong in traditional DM - direct mail, loyalty programs, database management and, over the last six months through addition of Marketing Principles, in sales promotion.


"The acquisition of DRS brings additional capabilities in the DRTV field. We've shared some clients with them, notably the Axa insurance group, one of the world's largest.


"What we do with our new acquisitions is to integrate them quickly into our business philosophy. We build on their strength and include them in our product offering."


DraftWorldwide has expanded rapidly abroad in recent years, making 11 foreign acquisitions in 1998 alone. It now owns six agencies in France, four in Germany and two in Belgium. It also has a strong presence in Spain and offices in Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and Greece.


"We're now pitching more and more pan-European business because we have the building blocks in place to create a true European and global network," he said. "Our next challenge is to begin branding each operation into a unified brand. Stay tuned as we roll that out for the next six months."


But he noted that some operations were solidly established in local markets and would keep independent identities so long as these "ancillary services" bring something special and unique to the brand.


"This is the best way for our clients to understand what we bring to the table," he said. "We're evolving our branding in order to communicate more effectively with our clients."


As one step towards building a single Draft brand, Radnor noted that in some countries results of multiple agencies are reported together. "As a result of pooling all our operations in Germany we rank fourth in below-the-line agencies there," he said.


Expansion, Radnor added, will continue to be a mix of organic growth and acquisition. Draft will focus first on building its network in western Europe and then explore Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
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