WPP’s announcement on June 20, 2012, where it agreed to acquire the assets of AKQA Holding had created quite a stir in the digital advertising and creative industry. Understandably so, after all AKQA has established itself as an organisation that has not only kept creativity and technology at its core but has also understood the importance for marketers to embrace new forms of media at the right time.
AKQA looks at WPP’s relationship as the next phase of growth for the agency. And one of the key areas for the company is to be present in a market like India, where AKQA is already servicing some of its clients such as Nike.
In a conversation with exchange4media, Ajaz Ahmed, Founder and CEO, AKQA said, “Without question India is one of the most important markets on our radar. In fact, we are already servicing clients in India. We are excited about the opportunity to be there and that we can hopefully make it to one of the most influential and innovative agencies in the country, especially when it comes to embracing technology platforms such as mobile.”
Post WPP acquisition, AKQA will continue to operate as an independent and stand-alone brand within WPP and be led by Ahmed and AKQA Chairman Tom Bedecarré. Bedecarré will also become President of WPP Ventures, a new Silicon Valley-based company, which will explore new digital investment opportunities for WPP as a whole.
India is a competitive digital market with all mainline agencies bringing digital at the core of their offering. Ahmed believes that it is AKQA’s speed and ability to understand technology and creativity for over a decade now that gives it the competitive edge.
“We love that everyone is going the route where we are, where innovation is at the core. From day one, we have had technology, creative and strategy as our DNA. None of these things have been just added on. So, when HTML 5 became important, we migrated our clients to that quicker than anyone else. When apps or social became important, we were amongst the first to take our clients there. Because our DNA has technology, strategy and creative at the core and it is not a bolt on, it allows us to evolve and move constantly. It enables us to keep changing fast – that is at the heart of our organisation. It is up to us to make sure that we continue to develop that DNA, keep innovating and embracing new platforms and keep embracing the new devices as they become relevant,” he said.
A time frame to be in India has to be still be finalised but as Ahmed puts it “sooner than you think”.
Currently employing 1160 people worldwide – from software engineers and technologists to creatives and strategists – the agency operates through offices in the US (San Francisco, New York, Washington DC), Europe (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin) and Asia (Shanghai). The agency had gross assets of $282 million as on 31 December 2011 and forecasts revenues of around $230 million in 2012, having achieved $189 million in 2011.