VML Acquires Stake In Polish Agency To Push Global Expansion

WPP’s burgeoning digital agency network VML, a unit of Y&R, has acquired a minority stake in Poland’s Heureka Group. The group will be re-branded VML Poland and will work closely with Y&R Poland. The acquisition is part of a broader global expansion effort by VML. This year, the agency also hopes to plant stakes in both China and Africa, according to the agency CEO and president Jon Cook.

“We looked at targets all over Europe,” said Cook. Heureka Group, with offices in Warsaw and Krakow, appeared to be the “best fit” to service VML’s needs in Eastern Europe, he added. “The innovation level is high here.”

The group has two main agencies including Heureka and Pride & Glory, with a total staff of 150 people, making it the largest firm that VML has invested in to date. Group clients include Orange, Philips, Microsoft, Danone Group, and Bacardi-Martini, as well as several leading Polish brands such as PZU (the largest Polish insurance company) and mBank.  

The Heureka Group management team led by CEO Dariusz Andrian will continue to run the rebranded operation, said Cook. “We took the time and effort to find the right partners.”

Poland itself is one of Europe’s faster-growing new media markets. In 2012, total digital advertising spending reached nearly $679 million -- up 10% from 2011 -- according to sources cited by the agency. Spending on mobile more than doubled last year, while video was up 65% and search engine marketing allotments were up 20%.

VML has expanded aggressively over the past couple of years, adding offices in Sydney, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Singapore, among others. It has had a major presence in London for some time.

More expansion is planned for this year and beyond, Cook said, noting that the agency intends to establish offices in both China and Africa. “If all goes according to plan,” he said, the agency will establish branches in both regions by the end of 2013. Plans for additional European expansion are also in the works.

Kansas City-based VML now has 1,300 staffers worldwide.



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