TBWA acquires Indian digital outfit Magnon Group

Magnon will handle work from TBWA offices globally. Read on for a Q&A with Keith Smith.

From L-R,Shiv Sethuraman (TBWA India);  Keith Smith (TBWA Worldwide); Vineet Bajpai(Magnon)
From L-R,Shiv Sethuraman (TBWA India); Keith Smith (TBWA Worldwide); Vineet Bajpai(Magnon)

TBWA has announced the acquisition of India's Magnon Group to bolster its digital capabilities. The acquisition includes Magnon Solutions, the domestic digital agency, and Magnon International, a digital outsourcing agency that serves clients across five continents. 

Effective immediately, Magnon will become part of the TBWA Group of companies in India. The digital agency, Magnon Solutions, will join TBWA’s global Digital Arts Network (DAN) and the digital outsourcing company, Magnon International, will become part of E-Graphics. 
Magnon was founded in 2000 by Vineet Bajpai, and employs nearly 150 professionals across its offices Mumbai and New Delhi. Bajpai, who will continue in his role as founder and CEO of Magnon, said, “Being a part of TBWA is an ambition fulfilled. TBWA’s global reach and excellence will provide Magnon with the right platform towards becoming a market-leading digital agency in India and the region. And TBWA’s empowering culture allows us to retain our adaptability and entrepreneurial fabric.”
Keith Smith, president – international, TBWA Worldwide, said, “We’ve been extremely impressed with both their digital capabilities and the strength of their management team. Globally, TBWA is building a strong, integrated digital network and we’re confident that Magnon Group will deliver the expertise and talent we need to deliver innovative work and added value for our clients in India.”
Commenting on the acquisition, Shiv Sethuraman, chief executive officer, TBWA\India, added, “After successfully setting up The Integer Group India (our retail and shopper marketing company) last year, the acquisition of Magnon makes us a uniquely positioned agency in India – one that is ahead of the curve in the disciplines that will matter most in the years to come.”
Excerpts from the conversation with Keith Smith:
How's TBWA faring in India and globally?
Along with India, which is a growth market for us, we have identified 11 strong markets including BRIC, South Africa and South Asian markets, and are confident of growing significantly in those three markets.
What is the immediate plan for TBWA in India?
We are going to really focus on three aspects of the business: advertising, retail and digital. Having said that, digital is at the heart of all these and it is important that they grow in conjunction with each other. Moreover, we will continue to do what we have been doing for the last couple of years, which is really increase the creative power of the company by continuing to hire the best possible talent available. 
Why did TBWA chose Magnon for delivering work across all offices of TBWA? 
We have been working with Magnon for over a year now, and we found the chemistry that we are looking for and the expertise they bring on to the table is something that very exportable to other markets around the world. While it is a very much Indian acquisition, we do look at it as part of the global strategy to build a very strong digital profile globally. 
After this acquisition of Magnon, can we expect more acquisitions by TBWA in the Indian market?   
We have no plans to make further acquisitions in this year. We are simply following the plans that we had in 2012, which is to make sure about the quality of people we have in the company, ensure that we upgrade the talent regularly. The digital acquisition puts more emphasis on that by virtue of having a digital component now, we have to make sure that we have smart and young talent.
On one hand you are talking about hiring more talent, while there were reports about 'downsizing' the Chennai office in India. Which cities will be your key drivers?  
Realistically, in any multi-office country, you have to evaluate where the core activity is really happening. We have the same conversation in certain European, US and Australian markets. If it doesn't make any sense to have an office there, why have it at all? It is better to increase the capacity and power of the key commercial centres, which in the case of India are Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. It is just a case of where we are emphasizing more on  productivity. 
What are the major plans for TBWA in 2013?
As part of the Omnicom Group, we are always on the lookout for partners who can add skillsets and expertise to our aspirations. I cannot identify specific acquisition targets right now, but growth is the word on our list. Growth comes not just organically but with the right acquisitions. But, we don't have anything specific that I can talk about right now. 
How do you think year 2013 will be for the industry - good, bad or better than 2012?
The answer is: we don't know at the moment. We are just eight days into the new year. I would say most of our clients are cautiously hopeful about 2013. We need, maybe a month, to see exactly where it is going. We are lucky that we have a great list of global clients who are looking at developing their business, particularly in the markets that I have identified earlier. We are also cautiously optimistic, with the strengths that we posses.
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