Cross-Pollination: FRWD Acquires BrandinHand

One of the leading mobile media buying and planning agencies BrandInHand has been acquired by Minneapolis-based digital marketing agency FRWD.

BrandInHand and its founder John Hadl have been responsible for more than 650 mobile marketing campaigns. The company has served as a key buyer and mobile strategist for Procter & Gamble, Best Buy, Coca-Cola and American Express.

Now, BrandinHand will become a subsidiary of FRWD. Hadl will take the position of "partner emeritus" at FRWD. "The BrandInHand team has always kept their clients ahead of the curve, and this is precisely what they'll be doing as part of FRWD," states John Grudnowski, founder and managing partner, FRWD.

The company was acquired for cash and stock.

The eight-person BrandInHand staff have been based in Los Angeles. Seven of the eight will stay with the company, Hadl tells Online Media Daily, with the media staff remaining in LA and others moving to Minneapolis.

Hadl says he will be working part of the time for FRWD and is a stockholder in the company. "I will be instrumental in leading the mobile strategy aspects for mobile," he says. In addition to being offered an attractive price for the company, he was motivated to sell by his new role as a venture partner at US Venture Partners, where he is developing new businesses and investment.

Hadl, who has been a pioneer in mobile marketing throughout the 2000s, began serving as a strategic advisor to P&G on its mobile plan in 2005, which was among the first clients for BrandInHand.

He was named by Brandweek one of the "Marketers of the Next Generation" in 2007 and among Advertising Age's "40 Under 40" ad executives also in 2007.

Hadl says he entertained multiple offers for the company, calling the market for mobile marketing agencies "frothy." He decided his company and FRWD make a good fit because they "share many of the same core beliefs in building client capabilities and leaning heavily on data to improve marketing results."

The two companies also already shared two clients, 3M and General Mills.

FRWD plans to mark the acquisition with roundtable discussions at its Minneapolis offices for core clients and to host an all-Minneapolis mobile event in the near future.

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