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BBDO Acquires Wednesday Agency Group

The advertising agency has bought a majority stake in Wednesday Agency Group, with the aim to expand Wednesday’s service offering and drive global expansion.
Illustration: BoF
  • Kate Abnett

LONDON, United Kingdom — Advertising agency BBDO Worldwide, a division of Omnicom Group Inc., has acquired a majority stake in Wednesday Agency Group, a creative agency focused on fashion and luxury lifestyle brands. The terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Wednesday Agency Group, whose clients include Calvin Klein, Net-a-Porter and H&M, will operate as an independent agency brand within the BBDO Worldwide network, retaining its existing two offices in London and New York. The company will also retain its current leadership, with co-founders Jens Grede and Erik Torstensson acting as chairman and executive creative director, respectively, alongside chief executive officer Glenn Jones and president Ian Schatzberg. According to filings at Companies House in the UK, Wednesday Agency Group earned revenues of £24.5 million (about $36 million) for the year ended December 31, 2014.

Andrew Robertson, president and chief executive officer of BBDO Worldwide, which serves clients across a wide range of industries, from soft drinks to supermarkets, said bringing Wednesday into the company's portfolio of agencies would add expertise in the “highly specialised sector” of luxury and fashion. “The thing that fashion and luxury brands need, in particular, is that nose and that touch that allows you to execute that really does feel right for those brands,” said Robertson. “They’ve got a proven track record of being really successful at doing it — and we haven’t.”

“Our world is a bit of a special world,” agreed Torstensson. “It has its own hierarchies, infrastructure and system that it works in. You need to be specialist to understand the ins and outs.”

As for Wednesday, joining BBDO will help the agency to expand its service offering into areas like media planning and data analytics. “We saw a need from our clients’ point of view to grow Wednesday from an agency to a boutique global network, offering the creative services that we’re known for, but also adding on media planning, buying, analytics and local production work,” said Grede, who added that Wednesday had originally approached BBDO about a deal and that the two companies were in talks for almost a year before things came to fruition.

Plugging into BBDO’s global infrastructure and financial resources will also make it possible for Wednesday to expand more quickly into new international markets. “The barrier to global expansion are lower when you already have a network established,” explained BBDO’s Robertson. BBDO’s existing footprint — the agency runs 289 offices in 81 countries — puts Wednesday in a stronger position to open new international offices and tap into existing local expertise. For example, BBDO could launch a Shanghai operation for Wednesday “in a matter of days,” said Robertson.

“It’s absolutely more expansion,” said Schatzberg of Wednesday’s post-transaction plans. “Greater Asia is of huge relevance to us and our partners. That will be an area specifically relevant for us in the next 10 or 12 months.”

Wednesday was originally born as a digital agency under the umbrella of Saturday Group, a holding company founded by Torstensson and Grede in 2003. Saturday Group also owned other creative agencies, including Saturday, with which Wednesday merged in 2013, creating a more integrated, full-service offering. Last year, Saturday Group changed its name to Wednesday Agency Group.

The BBDO-Wednesday deal comes in the context of on-going shifts in the market for digital services in fashion and luxury as specialist digital agencies lose ground to traditional advertising agencies, which have become more digitally savvy, and major brands build their own in-house teams.

“Erik and I are more committed to Wednesday than we have ever been before,” said Grede. “BBDO [is] helping us to build Wednesday agency group into its own global boutique network for the fashion, luxury, beauty and media industries.”

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