St. Louis, birthplace of perhaps the first search marketing firm and Twitter creator Jack Dorsey, stepped into the spotlight again Wednesday with two developments: the acquisition of interactive shop The Loud Few by marketing agency Moosylvania, and the creation of a new customer engagement agency, Ansira, out of 92-year-old NSI Marketing Services' acquisition of Dallas-based analytics firm Razor five months ago.Moosylvania has specialized in design, digital, branding, promotion and experiential services. With The Loud Few, it gains additional expertise in interactive marketing, digital strategy and execution, search marketing and optimization, social media, and user experience. Terms of the deal were not announced.
Moosylvania and The Loud Few had at least one common client prior to their merger -- St. Louis-based Solutia, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals and materials. Other Moosylvania clients include Bacardi, Balance Bar, Capital One, Dean Foods, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Sapporo Beer -- and coming over with The Loud Few -- Cutex and Renaissance Financial Services.
The Loud Few's staff is moving to Moosylvania's headquarters, but will remain intact, with founder Erin Steinbruegge becoming vice president of digital operations for Moosylvania. The combined entity has more than 100 employees.
Ansira, calling itself the "first integrated customer engagement agency," combines Razor's capabilities in lead-generating consumer analytics and database management with NSI's focus on supporting national marketing activities at the local retail level via such tools as experiential marketing and trade promotion.
The combined firm had been operating under the NSI moniker since January, with a roster including former Razor clients Domino's Pizza, Rent-A-Center, Wendy's and Nestlé Purina, along with NSI holdovers Coca-Cola, Ford, Honda/Acura, Cisco and Microsoft.
Ansira has more than 475 employees and annual revenues in excess of $70 million, according to AdMedia Partners, which served as financial advisor to Razor in the January sale.
Wednesday's announcements came as little surprise to Patrick Garrett, who now serves as managing partner, director of search, for WPP/ GroupM's Maxus media agency, which is supported by St. Louis-based GroupM Search, formerly Outrider and still further back Webster Group International, the pioneering search agency founded in 1995.
That was also the year Garrett began working in the interactive community, and he noted that the digital talent first nurtured by Webster and other firms has continued to grow.
In just the past few years, GroupM's staff in St. Louis has grown from 20 to 80 people, he said, with Interpublic's Momentum also strong, as well as Omnicom's Rodgers Townsend and Fleishman Hillard. The "phenomenal" talent pool, combined with central location and low cost-of-living, helps make St. Louis a good place for digital firms, Garrett noted.
Another digital resource nurtured in St. Louis was Twitter's Dorsey, who even co-founded his latest venture -- the mobile payment service Square -- with Jim McKelvey, his former boss at St. Louis-based Mira Digital Publishing.