"It's madness that media and creative are run separately,” M&C Saatchi CEO Jaimes Leggett tells AdNews on the day his agency’s acquisition of independent media shop Bohemia is announced.
“Collectively I think the industry needs to be more customer and client oriented. It’s exciting to be bringing the two back together again,” he says.
"We fundamentally believe that the best communications marry content with context. In many respects, the medium is the message - where it is seen is as important as what is seen.”
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, which has been in the making for nine months, brings Bohemia' media planning and buying capabilities into the M&C Saatchi group structure to sit alongside businesses including CX firm LIDA, innovation unit Tricky Jigsaw and PR agency Hidden Characters.
The Bohemia name will remain, and the agency, which moved into new, larger offices in Surry Hills last year, will be staying put, not moving into M&C Saatchi's Macquarie Street building.
Bohemia has struggled to retain major accounts in the last year with Lion, Quick Service Restaurants and Vodafone all moving their business, and Pandora is currently in review. Behind the acquisition will be the hope that M&C's scale can help stabilise Bohemia's business while retaining its culture, talent and people.
The appeal of Bohemia comes from the culture that it operates, much of which is instilled by founder and CEO Brett Dawson, but also from its transparent approach to media trading. Referencing the often-murky world of media agencies, Leggett said Bohemia is out in front when it comes to transparency.
"Bohemia has a rebellious spirit,” says Leggett of the independent media agency. “Disrupting the landscape and driving transformation for their clients - I love that. They are interesting and talented people and their values line up with ours.
"We all know the dark arts of media and Bohemia's model is different. It is the only agency we've come across that is fully transparent. They earn money in the same way we do. Clients know what they are paying for.”
Leggett says the deal is about “investing in entrepreneurs”, something that he says is at the heart of what the agency has long stood for. When asked whether the notoriously tough time Bohemia has had over the past 12 months, which has seen it shed large clients including Vodafone and Lion, isa concern, Leggett acknowledged that the three-year-old media agency has been a victim of its own meteoric success in its first two years of business.
“This deal is not about us buying revenue, it’s about investing in a team and culture we believe in,” he tells AdNews. “Bohemia grew quickly in their early days and that brings challenges, but we all believe that future growth is tied to media being closer to creativity to drive business. And we can help drive that”
Bohemia was named the AdNews Emerging Agency of the Year in its second year, and Media Agency of the Year in 2014 – just its third year of operation. Dawson told AdNews a year ago, that growing so quickly had been a challenge in terms of delivery. Last week it appointed Alex Skorokhod as group intelligence director and Kate Kennett as senior content manager.
Bohemia was launched in 2011 by Dawson and his business partner Chris Christofi. There are no immediate client account clashes with the two agencies that Leggett is concerned by, although the creative agency works on Commonwealth Bank while Bohmeia brings UBank. Bohemia also brings Aspen Australia, Best & Less, Caltex, Elanco, News.com.au, Open Colleges, Steadfast, Unicef and Unibet to the business.
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