With the purchase of a majority stake in the British digital agency Jellyfish, French group Fimalac is seeking to compete in a new space carved out, in part, by S4 Capital (and WPP) founder Sir Martin Sorrell.
“We want to create this new kind of agency that Martin Sorrell started,” Véronique Morali, president of Fimalac’s digital media holding company Webedia told the Financial Times.
Effectively, the group will merge its own company Tradelab, a data-driven marketing firm, with Jellyfish. According to a release, “the deal will put the value of the new combined entity at circa £500m with the ambition to be a multi-billion market cap company.” Fimalac will own around 74% of this.
As a result, Jellyfish will gain a presence in some large new markets including France, Germany, Italy and Brazil; its client list is already impressive, and spans digital-first companies like Spotify and eBay to more established major businesses like Nestlé, Ford, and Disney.
Unlike some more traditional agencies, Jellyfish’s capabilities are broad, marrying analytical techniques in marketing with creative and consulting capabilities. Commenting on the purchase, Rob Pierre, CEO of Jellyfish touted modern brands’ need for “digital partners who are able to offer capabilities that go beyond the traditional agency model”.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Pierre also name-checked the former WPP boss and his new venture: “We’re taking similarly aggressive ambitions to S4 Capital because we’re right in the same place and we’re looking at the same opportunity.”
Earlier this week, S4C reported 54% year-on-year revenue growth in Q3 2019, with a similar 50% year-on-year increase in profit. On an earnings call with investors, Sorrell echoed the idea that CMOs were looking to “take back control” of their customer relationships by looking at “more sophisticated models and some of the integration of agencies themselves”.
S4C’s offer has been touted by its founder as “faster, better, cheaper,” in reference to a classic advertising trilemma – you can pick two but not all three of these. Sorrell has sought to do just this, while attempting to deal with companies at the board level, offering capabilities closer to that of a consultancy with creative capabilities rather than a creative or media shop with tech capabilities.
Sourced from the Financial Times, Jellyfish, WARC