Publicis Puts The 'I' In China: Acquires Leading Digital Shop, Rebrands It Leo Burnett

Publicis Groupe is tapping one of Madison Avenue's oldest brands - Leo Burnett - as the flagship for its newest, and potentially biggest digital marketplace: China. Publicis, the Paris-based parent of Digitas, Starcom MediaVest Group, ZenithOptimedia Groupe, and traditional agencies like Leo Burnett, this morning announced the acquisition of EmporioAsia, one of China's leading digital agencies. The Shanghai-based shop, which will be renamed EmporioAsia Leo Burnett, will be headed by Vincent Kobler, an entrepreneur who founded EmporioAsia in 1999. He will serve as CEO.

Publicis said EmporioAsia Leo Burnett would operate as part of Leo Burnett China's burgeoning marketing services network, which also includes a regional operation of Arc Worldwide.

Specializing in online strategy and creative, search marketing and analytics, EmporioAsia has a client roster including Hilton Hotels, China Eastern Airlines, Philips, Shangri-la Hotels, Parrot and ING bank, and a staff of 35.

The move is a significant one for Publicis, as Chairman-CEO has been preaching the importance of both digital marketing services and China as a burgeoning marketplace to the holding company's investors and clients. Publicis estimates that China currently has more than 150 million Internet users, and will overtake the U.S. as the world's largest online market within the next year. Despite the growing online usage trends, Publicis estimates that online currently represents only about 2% of total ad spending in the Chinese marketplace, vs. upwards of 5% in the U.S. Moreover, while roughly half of the U.S. population is actively using the Internet, Publicis estimates that less than 15% of the Chinese population is currently plugged in

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