Flying high! 22feet sells out to DDB Mudra [updated today]

24 Feb,2014

L-R 22feet co-founders Deepak Nair, Vineet Gupta, Brijesh Jacob and Vinod Moolacherry


By A Correspondent


One more Indian digital major gets gobbled up. Bangalore-headquartered 22feet has been acquired by media and marketing services conglomerate Omnicom Group.


On Monday, Omnicom’s DDB Group announced the acquisition of 22feet. The five-year-old digital marketing firms in India will merge with nine-year-old Tribal Worldwide India creating a new entity known as 22feet Tribal Worldwide which will be a part of the DDB Mudra Group.  22feet has in its roster brands such as Café Coffee Day, Fastrack, Lenovo, Heineken, Kingfisher, Red Bull and Axe.


Madhukar Kamath

The new entity – 22feet Tribal Worldwide – will be spearheaded by the core team of 22feet and not that of Tribal. Vineet Gupta will be Managing Director, Brijesh Jacob is Joint Managing Director and Deepak Nair will be Chief Operating Officer. The three will report directly to Madhukar Kamath, Group CEO and Managing Director, DDB Mudra Group. They will also work closely with Tribal Worldwide network in APAC and across 42 countries.


The fourth 22feet co-founder Vinod Moolacherry will take charge of White Canvas, the Bengaluru-based full-service agency set up by the foursome. White Canvas has not been acquired by Omnicom as part of the deal on 22feet. Meanwhile, Venkat Mallik, president of Tribal India and RAPP, the marketing and CRM agency, will now move to look after RAPP, with what a spokesperson told us is an expanded and new global vision for that business.


Said Mr Kamath on the acquisition: “With digital at the heart of DDB Mudra Group’s agenda, we are extremely happy about joining forces with 22feet. In just five years, 22feet has grown leaps and bounds. With this energy and Tribal Worldwide’s global reputation and reach, I’m excited to see what this magic of mergers can create.”


John Zeigler

Added John Zeigler, Chairman and CEO, DDB Group Asia Pacific, India and Japan: “We see this as a strategic move to continue evolving our capabilities in the fast-moving Indian market. DDB Group has accelerated its capabilities to offer clients the best-in-class local digital expertise at 22feet, coupled with best-in-class global knowledge of the Tribal Worldwide network. I believe this is a game-changing event for the DDB Mudra Group in India.”


According to a financial advisor to many media M&A deals who requested anonymity, the acquisition is a win-win for DDB and 22feet. For digital media entrepreneurs who have sold out to advertising majors, the scale of a large network and international clients is a huge pull. And for ad firms, who have not been very strong on digital, acquiring smaller firms and thereby talent, legacy and clients is a sureshot way of getting digital prowess that clients seek. The added advantage, said the M&A specialist, is that networks could also look at converting a part of these digital shops to delivery hubs for offices elsewhere in the world.


According to Prasanth Mohanachandran, CEO of AgencyDigi, who sold his agency eDeltaC Communications to Ogilvy in 2001, the 22feet buy will do a world of good for Tribal in India. “It’s an excellent agency worldwide, and the acquisition will help leapfrog the operations here,” Mohanachandran said


Meanwhile, there is excitement amongst the 22feet co-founders who will now steer 22feet Tribal. Said Vineet Gupta on the announcement: “We are extremely excited to be a part of the DDB Group family. At 22feet, we share DDB’s passion for innovation and technology and look forward to delivering best in class digital solutions to our clients across markets as 22feet Tribal Worldwide.”


Brijesh Jacob and Deepak Nair echo similar sentiments. “We are extremely happy with this opportunity to operate on a global canvas,” said Nair.


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