The modern agency: a Q&A from ad:tech Chicago

This blog post comes to you live from ad:tech Chicago 2009.  On September 1, Dave Friedman, president of the Americas for Razorfish (my employer) joins a panel of agency executives to discuss the role of modern agencies with their clients.  Participants include David Hernandez of Tribal DDB; Drew Ianni chairperson of ad:tech; and Chris Miller of DraftFCB.  The conversation is moderated by Tim Hanlon, VivaKi Ventures.

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Publicis Groupe/Razorfish: it’s all about the brand

On August 9, Microsoft and Publicis Groupe announced that Publicis Groupe has agreed to acquire my employer Razorfish.  (At Razorfish, we announced the agreement on Twitter.)  The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.  The rationale is simple: Publicis Groupe has a stated goal of broadening the breadth of its digital offerings. Razorfish accelerates that strategy.

Razorfish will operate as our own company inside VivaKi, a Publicis Groupe entity that includes Denuo, Digitas, Starcom MediaVest Group, and Zenith Optimedia.  Razorfish CEO Bob Lord will report to David Kenny, one of the managing partners of VivaKi.  VivaKi is all about technology, media, and digital, which are important to Razorfish.  Consider us digital cousins.  (And I love that wicked cool VivaKi logotype.)

In my view, Razorfish adds to VivaKi Social Influence Marketing expertise, consumer insight, technology, and our ability to create brand experiences across the digital world.  In turn, Razorfish will accelerate our own strategy of expanding globally and broadening our own offerings.

Microsoft remains an important client to Razorfish.  Razorfish will continue to service Microsoft as we did before Microsoft owned Razorfish.

Finally, there’s this: so often deals get analyzed from all financial angles when our clients and employees are the most important aspects.  Publicis Groupe bought Razorfish because of our powerful brand, which is the outcome of the service our people provide to our clients such as Best Buy, Mercedes-Benz USA, McDonald’s, MillerCoors, and Starwood Hotels.  About seven years ago, SBI bought Razorfish for $8.2 million, just a fraction of the $530 million Publicis Groupe paid, which is a testament to the value of our brand.  We’ve built that brand by making sure our actions — the work we do for our clients — speak as loudly as our words.  And we will continue to do just that.

Hello Publicis Groupe. Viva VivaKi.  Microsoft: thank you for continuing to be a great client.