June 16, 2017 Brexit’s Got Talent? - a roundtable discussion with Green Square and The Drum
As negotiations over the UK’s departure from the European Union inch closer to officially starting, agency M&A advisers Green Square invited a selection of agency leaders with offices across Europe to lunch at The Ivy. On the menu was ...
May 15, 2017 Why the Bollorés' Vivendi-Havas merger has echoes of another media dealmaking dynasty
Two media dynasties. One selling, one wants to buy. The reasons for them doing so are broadly similar (consolidation and the ability to compete in global markets – of which more later), but the outcomes may be different. First of all, the n...
April 13, 2017 “Alexa? What does the growth of Voice Recognition Software mean for the marcomms industry?”
The huge success of Amazon’s Alexa device, and the growth of voice recognition software (VRS) in general, throws up a number of very interesting conundrums for the marcomms industry – and for search in particular. It’s now becom...
April 03, 2017 Why one newspaper’s reporting could change the face of digital media
Proper investigative journalism is, in these straitened times for newspaper publishers, sadly something of a rarity at the moment. There have been examples in recent times – The Guardian’s expose of phone-hacking, the Telegraph&rsquo...
March 16, 2017 Why internal mergers may be as important as external ones
An interesting mergers trend has been making itself felt in the marcomms industry over the past few weeks. Not mergers between agencies, though – but within them. Only last week Havas Media announced that it was merging its creative and medi...
February 17, 2017 In the battle between 'old media' and digital, the oldies aren’t beaten just yet
Over the past few weeks, I (and, I suspect, a lot of other people) have been thinking about news. Not just the news, but news. Ever since last year, with Brexit, Trump and events in Europe and elsewhere, news has been moving to the top of the ne...
January 30, 2017 Well, that wasn’t so surprising, was it?
I’m talking about yesterday’s announcement that Arthur Sadoun is to succeed Maurice Lévy as chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe. While speculation as to who would succeed the charismatic and energetic Lévy has been going o...
January 18, 2017 Green Square comment as UK ad industry greets Theresa May's Brexit plan
The Drum reports UK ad industry greets Theresa May's Brexit plan with bated breath. Prime minister Theresa May’s much-anticipated reveal of a “bold and ambitious” Brexit from the European Union's (EU) single market has been met w...
January 16, 2017 Tony Walford's industry comment in The Drum - Omnicom's TBWA eyes potential stake in Lucky Generals
Omnicom's TBWA is poised to take a stake in independent agency Lucky Generals in a deal that could be announced as early as next week, The Drum has learned from multiple sources.  It is understood that the founders – Danny Brooke-Taylo...
December 12, 2016 Murdoch: Tales of the unexpected
If there’s anyone in the media industry who is guaranteed to spring a surprise, it’s Rupert Murdoch. And he certainly did that when he announced (through his 21st Century Fox corporation) an audacious bid to fully take over the satell...
November 30, 2016 Accenture buying Karmarma: The deal that symbolises where marketing is heading?
At the start of this year, we flagged Karmarama as one of the last independent agencies of scale left in the UK. We also said that it was unlikely to sell up unless a really interesting offer came along. Well, as of yesterday (29 November) it is ...
November 22, 2016 SapientRazorfish: What's in a name change and a restructure? Quite a lot, actually
There was an interesting piece of news last week. Global network Publicis merged two of its biggest digital agencies, Razorfish and SapientNitro, to create SapientRazorfish. We’ll come back to that in a moment. I found the story interesting...
October 10, 2016 Every good agency can sell itself: R&D Venture Partners interviewed by The Drum Network
Green Square partners R&D Venture Partners talk to The Drum Network about agency strategies. Richard Draycott, The Drum Network [DN]: How would you describe the level of agency M&A activity in the US so far in 2016? Donna Granato [DG]: D...
October 10, 2016 UK's search, performance and affiliate marketing disciplines offer reasons for optimism even in the face of Brexit
Last week we at Green Square advised on a deal (featured in The Drum) which saw the acquisition of London-based search agency 4Ps by the French giant Netbooster. We and the 4Ps team were delighted with the result as you might imagine, particularl...
September 23, 2016 Why Centaur is buying Oystercatchers
A decade or so ago, the idea of a publishing company buying a company that puts ad agencies in front of prospective clients and which initiates new business pitches would have been unthinkable. But the world – and the world of marketing com...
September 16, 2016 The thorny problem of succession for Publicis and WPP
There’s no doubt that, in the world of marcomms, there’s one pretty unique alpha male, and that’s Sir Martin Sorrell. Over the past decade or more, the WPP boss has been the media’s go-to man when reporters are looking for ...
September 07, 2016 Sans Frontières: Why maverick PR man Lord Bell may enjoy being his own man again
The big news in marcomms last week was the resignation of Lord Tim Bell from Bell Pottinger, the company he founded 30 years ago. As the industry prepared for the August Bank Holiday weekend, Bell, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, announced...
August 19, 2016 When it comes to digital, Dentsu seems to be putting its money where its mouth is
Everyone loves a challenger brand – and in the world of global agency networks, there’s no doubt that Dentsu Aegis Network is one to watch. We’ve written about Dentsu Aegis many times in The Drum over the past three or four year...
August 17, 2016 Prepare for a wave of marketing startups – and this is what they might look like
Back in May, I wrote about startups here on The Drum. We at Green Square were wondering why there weren’t more startups, particularly in a creative industry increasingly consolidated among a few international mega-groups. Creative and/or ent...
July 27, 2016 With the Yahoo acquisition, is Verizon about to become a media giant?
As we’ve been predicting for the past couple of years, Yahoo has finally been bought. There have been a number of putative suitors for the venerable (or faded, depending on your point of view) internet giant over the years, but earlier this ...
July 06, 2016 News Corp's TalkSport acquisition strengthens its grip on football and helps futureproof its operations
If you’re in the M&A business, the phrase 'a good strategic fit' – as parroted on press releases, in media statements and in front of analysts and investors – has a certain familiarity about it. But in the case of News Corp&...
June 27, 2016 As the UK prepares for Brexit, the nation’s advertising industry moves into uncharted territory
The UK’s landmark decision to exit the European Union (EU) has pushed the advertising industry into uncharted territory, with both brands and agencies scrambling to assess if this vote means advantages or problems to come. Stock prices ar...
June 09, 2016 One month on, it’s clear that Amazon Video Direct is no YouTube killer, and quite deliberately so
Whatever else you might think of it, Amazon has got its PR operation sorted. Scarcely a week goes by without the online behemoth making the news in some way. Whether it’s technological or marketing innovation, daft stuff about drones, or pr...
May 23, 2016 Can a rare new marcomms startup upstage the status quo or will it be left tinkering at the margins?
“Whatever happened to all the startups?” somebody asked me the other day. It wasn’t an entirely flippant question, and it got me thinking – there hasn’t been too much action in the startup scene this year. I’ve...
May 08, 2016 What makes an ideal purchase? The secret behind successful marketing M&A deals
As someone who works for a business that puts firms wanting to realise value in touch with firms looking to acquire, and which then helps to facilitate the deal, one of the questions I’m most often asked when I tell people what I do, is: &qu...
April 29, 2016 Green Square launches Tarot-themed ad campaign created by Hometown
Merger and acquisition advisers Green Square has launched a new ad campaign, created by London advertising agency Hometown. Positioned to stand-out in the “pretty serious” world of professional services communications, Hometown deve...
April 25, 2016 Mail's interest in Yahoo isn't so odd – it demonstrates huge Stateside ambition
As M&A rumours go, it was a pretty bizarre one. I’m talking, of course, about the past week’s rumours that the Daily Mail was going to buy Yahoo (well, sort of, but we’ll come to that in minute). We’ve written about th...
April 04, 2016 Twitter will still be here in 10 years – but in whose hands?
Where does the time go? I ask because I was staggered to learn that Twitter is 10 years old. First of all, those 10 years have just flown by. And although a decade isn’t long in geological terms, in the world of marcomms and technology it&r...
March 14, 2016 For a vision of the future of marcomms, consult the consultants
We’ve written many times in the past about the challenges the big consulting and accountancy groups – KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, Grant Thornton, McKinsey et al – pose to the established advertising networks. Indeed, in recent times, t...
February 29, 2016 The new face of retail: Behind Cheil Worldwide's focus on this 'highly fashionable' channel
Cheil Worldwide, the South Korean marketing services group which is part of the mighty Samsung empire, posted some interesting news last week – that it was consolidating its entire global retail resource under a single banner. Called Cheil ...
February 19, 2016 If the newspaper business is doomed, why is Johnston Press paying £24m for the i?
Whether you read, or were a fan of, the publication in question or not, the closure of a national newspaper is always an event, and a cause for reflection. First of all, it’s a relatively rare occurrence; and secondly, anything that reduces ...
January 28, 2016 Apple needs to think different – and open its wallet
Apple has been the world’s most valuable company (at least measured by its market cap, if not sales) for so long now that it’s easy to forget that it was not always so. Back in the late 1990s, before the return of co-founder Steve Job...
January 25, 2016 Publicis deserves credit for looking forward, not back, on its 90th birthday
We tend to think of advertising and marketing as very modern businesses – especially when we think of channels such as digital, mobile and eCRM. But the truth is, advertising of one sort or another goes back centuries, back to the dawn of c...
January 11, 2016 Who's going to be buying who in 2016? The media and marketing firms in acquirers' sights this year
While a busy year overall, 2015 was a fairly quiet one in terms of big pure-marcomms M&A activity, for obvious reasons – there aren’t that many large independent properties for the big groups to snap up; most of them have been boug...
January 04, 2016 2016: The year Yahoo will be broken up?
Yahoo’s high-profile chief, Marissa Meyer, is rarely out of the news these days, whether it’s for having twins then dashing back to work; holding lavish $7m parties to the chagrin of certain investors; or buying up firms left right and...
December 18, 2015 Improving value through financial and tax due diligence
Whether a business’s planned exit route is via a trade sale, management buy out or an IPO, there are two key financial elements that will enhance value: 1. Ensuring operational excellence, and here we are talking about size, market position...
November 12, 2015 Will WPP’s Essence deal help tame Sir Martin Sorrell's great 'frenemy' Google?
For some time now WPP has been the most acquisitive of all the global holding companies, making numerous smaller acquisitions in dynamic, fast-growing territories, with the odd big deal from time to time. Last week (4 November) the group announce...
October 20, 2015 ITV buying UTV: What will ITV get for its £100m?
Last month ITV, the UK's largest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, celebrated its 60th anniversary. ITV (that's both the ITV network, as well as ITV plc, which owns the network along with STV Group) is now such a part of the broadcasting landsc...
September 25, 2015 Will ad blocking and mobile bring about a renaissance in creativity?
There’s been a lot of talk these past few days about ad blockers, those clever little apps and web browser widgets that stop you getting bugged by advertising. No wonder – when Apple, one of the most-watched and most-followed tech com...
September 18, 2015 Does the £114m Unruly deal represent a future-proofing coup for News Corp?
Last week media agency Zenith Optimedia published a report about mobile advertising, and how mobile ad spend will overtake that for print advertising for the first time. It was a timely report, for a week later (16 September) News Corp, owner of ...
September 09, 2015 Trouble in China? This is why Sir Martin Sorrell isn't running for cover
One of the big stories of recent weeks has of course been the apparently parlous state of the Chinese economy, which had a lot of commentators, investors and journalists gnawing at their fingernails early last week. You can see why. China is the ...
September 08, 2015 Why Johnston Press is right to consider a merger
This week I thought we’d take a look at a subject we’ve not covered before – the regional press. Time was, 20 or 30 years ago, that publishing a local or regional paper was practically a licence to print money. In the days befor...
August 14, 2015 Google’s Alphabet coup – and why it matters for investors and advertisers
So, why all the fuss about Google rebranding itself as Alphabet? Why all the news coverage, and why the 5 per cent spike in the tech giant’s share price as soon as the rebrand was announced? First of all, we have to remember this is Google ...
August 12, 2015 Does Sir Martin Sorrell have his eye on sports marketing glory? Unravelling the WPP/Chime deal
Far be it for me to question how Sir Martin Sorrell and WPP go about their business, but my first thoughts whilst on holiday when I heard that WPP was to buy out Chime Communications was: “Why?” After all, on the surface at least, it ...
July 31, 2015 Could Iran be advertising’s next superpower?
Sir Martin Sorrell, as we all know, likes to expand into new and growth territories: Asia-Pacific of course, but also India, South America, southern Africa, the old Communist bloc countries of Eastern Europe and Turkey. But I wonder what Sir Mart...
July 15, 2015 Will AOL take over Millennial Media? Some reasons why it should
Back in May, I wrote about US mobile phone giant Verizon buying AOL for $4.4bn, and about how it was a great deal for both acquired, and, especially, the acquirer. Two months on I still hold by that view, especially following the news late last w...
July 13, 2015 David Jones and his '£220m war chest' – why the former Havas chief has brand tech in his sights
Over the past few months we’ve found ourselves talking a lot about what’s known as 'content' – storytelling, which is after all at the very heart of marketing communications. A great story is still the most effective way of cutti...
July 02, 2015 Has Truffle Pig upped the content marketing game?
I was fortunate enough to be at Cannes Lions last week, networking, enjoying the glitz, the mecca that is the Palais, seeing some great work, rosé on the Carlton Terrace, catching up with old friends and celeb-spotting… But for me the most...
June 24, 2015 The rise of Dentsu Aegis: A lesson in moving from domestic domination to global player
Sometimes ad agencies and networks are like the proverbial London bus: you never hear from or about them for ages, then all of a sudden they engage in a flurry of activity. So it is with Dentsu. In the three years my colleagues and I have been wr...
June 24, 2015 Creston's 18 Feet & Rising investment and the 'medium-sized' growth problem in marcomms
All companies, if they are to remain vibrant, exciting and increase their value, need to grow. A small start-up company has to grow just as a giant holding company like Omnicom or WPP does – treading water just leads to stagnation. And, of c...
June 05, 2015 M&A round-up: The rise of channel marketing and the decline of 'conventional' ad agency acquisitions
As the month of May draws to an end, one thing leapt out at me as I looked back at some of the deals of the past four weeks or so – and that was that of the dozen or so deals done during the month, hardly any were 'conventional deals'. When...
April 22, 2015 Rise of the big dogs? Why the full-service agency model seems to be making a comeback
This month I wanted to return to two old friends we have written about several times before – St Ives Group and the Mission Group. St Ives, you may recall, was originally a commercial printer founded in 1964 which grew huge in the 1980s on ...
January 08, 2015 Marketing mergers and acquisitions: Who's going to be buying who in 2015?
The cards and decorations have come down, the hangovers have abated and the country is drifting back, slowly, and perhaps unwillingly, to work. Time, then, to look back – briefly – on 2014 and forward to 2015. 2014 was an interesting ...
August 01, 2014 Engine's buyout - Have we just witnessed the birth of a significant new holding group?
One of the great things about this industry – and particularly in the M&A space – is its ability to constantly surprise you. Here at Green Square, I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve said “Nobody sa...
July 18, 2014 Rupert Murdoch and Time Warner: Brace yourself for the biggest media battle of all time
Even by the old buccaneer’s standards, it was a daring, improbable approach – one that may have been rebuffed, but which may spark off one of the biggest media bunfights in history. I’m talking, of course, about Rupert Murdoch&r...
July 16, 2014 The Telegraph - SME Masterclass: How to deal with difficult customers
All customers are not created equal and sometimes they can be more trouble than they are worth. Here's how to deal with the difficult ones:
May 11, 2014 The Publicis Omnicom deal is off – so why did it fail?
Its unravelling was as fast and as surprising as its announcement: the $35bn Publicis-Omnicom merger – the biggest deal in the history of advertising – is off, it emerged this morning. Without doubt the biggest – and most unexpe...
April 25, 2014 Will Big Blue rule the world of Big Data?
We’ve often written in The Drum over the past year or so about non-marcomms companies getting in on the marcomms game, be they the likes of news and magazine distributor John Menzies, or the big consultancies and auditors like Grant Thornton...
February 25, 2014 Facebook’s $19bn WhatsApp buy: bubble or bargain?
We’re all used to Silicon Valley giants paying sky-high prices for tiny companies yet to make a profit, but $19bn? Unless you’ve been in some sort of news-free bubble in the last day or so, you will of course have heard that yesterday...
February 03, 2014 Why has Google spent £2bn on thermostats?
Rather than writing about the week’s big news – IPG’s much commented upon purchase of Profero – I thought that it might be more interesting to look at another massive deal, which arguably has far bigger ramifications in the...
January 17, 2014 Marcomms Down Under: on the up?
I had the pleasure of writing this article from Australia (where I was for the last couple of weeks of the year), whilst absorbing myself in the marketing culture of this fine country. As everyone knows, Australia is not only vast, but a long way...
January 13, 2014 New Havas boss gets 2014 off to an intriguing start with coy sale stance
The new year couldn’t have gotten off to a better start – at least for M&A buffs in the marcomms industry. Just yesterday (9 January), Yannick Bolloré, the newly-installed boss at holding group Havas, seemingly left the door open ...
December 17, 2013 What to expect from WPP, Aegis-Dentsu, Publicis-Omnicom, IPG et al in 2014
So, farewell then 2013, the year that saw the biggest deal (the $35bn Publicis-Omnicom mega-merger) in the history of the marketing communications industry. It was a good year for anyone with even a passing interest in mergers and acquisitions, b...
December 17, 2013 Topsy acquisition points way to Apple’s TV-led future
The deal that really caught my eye this week was Apple’s buyout of the 'social analytics' firm Topsy Labs on Tuesday. Apple paid $200m for the company – which collects data from Twitter that potentially provides insights into social me...
November 28, 2013 The Publicis and Walker Media deal: What you need to know
Ok, let’s deal with some of this week’s big news first. It seems that the rumours that have been circulating for days were true: yesterday (21 November) Publicis Groupe confirmed it was “in discussions” with M&C Saatchi...
September 27, 2013 Blurred lines: Why marketing firms are diversifying into unknown territories
One of the great (and most striking) things about being in this business – marketing communications – is just how diverse it has become. Had Green Square been in existence 20 years ago, we’d have almost entirely been advising ad ...
August 19, 2013 The Rainy City’s becoming a PR powerhouse as regional agencies flex their muscles
There’s a common popular misconception that the creative and marketing industries are all exclusively based in, and obsessed with, London. While it’s undeniable that the capital is the centre of the UK marcomms industry, not everythi...
July 30, 2013 Why Sir Martin Sorrell might be rubbing his hands with glee after the Publicis-Omnicom merger
“Chapeaux off to Maurice”. On Monday morning (29 July), a bullish-sounding Sir Martin Sorrell appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme to comment on the stunning Omnicom-Publicis merger, which had been unveiled to an astonished worl...
July 22, 2013 In Africa, WPP goes Native
WPP have been at it again. Yep, Sir Martin Sorrell’s company has been on the acquisitions trail once more. One of the interesting things about this particular group is its ability to think long term, and to move into emerging markets, often ...
July 08, 2013 Opportunities a-plenty, going for a song
Of all the established industries disrupted by the disruptive technology that is the internet, none has been more badly battered than the music business. There’s a certain irony in this – the music biz embraced digital technology enth...
July 08, 2013 It’s not always about London, you know
This week I thought it appropriate to travel north of the border (somewhere, surprisingly enough, we haven’t yet ventured), home to this esteemed publication – and Scotland’s biggest agency, Leith.
June 07, 2013 WPP: The big deal that went under the radar
WPP is to marcoms holding groups what Tesco is to retail. None of the advertising giants is as closely scrutinised as Sir Martin Sorrell’s global behemoth. Like Tesco, it is often seen as a bellwether for the rest of the industry.
May 20, 2013 Marketing deals: Acquirers get hungry again as Aegis leads the way
Since the beginning of the year my partners Tony and Andrew, as well as myself, have been commenting on a busy M&A market. However, more recently the activity seems to have jumped up yet another level, with no less than 13 major deals appearin...
May 10, 2013 The perfect marriage, made on Mauritius
If I were to ask you for a list of the most dynamic advertising markets in the world, chances are that Mauritius would not be among them. As you might expect for an exclusive holiday destination, it has a thriving tourist industry. But did you ...
April 08, 2013 Adapt or Die
Business, they say, is a lot like life – and so it is. In life, particularly at times of crisis or upheaval, it is not the strongest, or most intelligent, organisms which survive to pass their genes to future generations – it is the mo...
February 22, 2013 The newest new media: why more ads at ATMs could be on the cards
A notable trend on the mergers and acquisitions scene over the past year or so has been the acquisition of marketing agencies (or at least entities which could be said to be at least partially engaged in one of the disciplines of marketing) by com...
February 05, 2013 Is high street retail a new type of marketing agency?
First off this week, I wanted to throw a thought out there, prompted by the sad news last week that HMV, the sole remaining High Street music and DVD chain, had gone into administration. This a blow to the multi-billion pound music biz, which is...
January 12, 2013 Time to look back, time to look forward
In this, the first of our blogs for 2013, we’re going to take a look back at the past twelve months to see if we can get a feel for what the trends might be for the next year. 2012 saw around 150 deals in our industry, from the big (WPP sn...
December 10, 2012 Acquisitions round-up: The best deals and juciest bargains as acquirers go on a Christmas shopping spree
It's a familiar ritual for the less organised among us. We put off our Christmas shopping and leave ourselves open to last-minute panic buying.
December 10, 2012 The latest digital deals: local has global appeal
The first of the deals we’re going to look at this week involved the Norwich- based (what is it about Norwich at the moment? – see previous blogs) digital agency Selesti acquiring – for an undisclosed sum - the search marketing d...
October 30, 2012 Green Square Blog: It’s not just the big groups who are buying – private equity’s on the acquisition trail too
One of the big misconceptions about the marketing services industry is that it’s a pond in which big fish swim around, sizing up smaller fish and then gobbling up those they regard as the most attractive and the most potentially nutritious.
October 12, 2012 Green Square Blog: The Drum: Is the next big integrated group out there somewhere?
What’s interesting about all these acquisitions are that they signal the intent of medium-sized marketing agencies to grow and develop both scale and a wider, more integrated range of offerings. Will one of them be the next big integrated gr...
July 05, 2010 Green Square sponsors NMA Effectiveness Awards
Green Square had a very enjoyable evening hosting a table at the recent NMA Effectiveness Awards at Grosvenor House.  Thanks to our digital clients and friends for making it such a fun night.

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