Next 15 agency Brandwidth targets rapid CX expansion with Cubaka deal
The latest deal by the British challenger group aims to strengthen its CX and marketing services business.
Jason Jones of Brandwidth and Simon Rutherford of Cubaka / Brandwidth
The acquisition of London-based social content business Cubaka by customer experience company Brandwidth Group will continue its rapid expansion into the CX sector, according to agency boss Jason Jones.
The deal is the latest struck by acquisition-hungry agency holding company Next 15, which last year bought Engine and attempted to take over M&C Saatchi.
According to chief executive officer Jones, the company charted 70% organic growth last year. The Cubaka deal, he says, will help it keep that momentum and plug ‘weaknesses’ in its current offering.
“Invariably, we’re finding that our clients have the technology, they’ve invested in it, but they don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to be able to leverage it,” he says.
“What we’re trying to do is put a group of businesses together that can help them with that. We want to be able to look at all the customer touch points that are attached to that martech stack and make sure we have a business in our group that is an expert in that slice of the stack.”
That’s the ambition. The current state of affairs, Jones says, isn’t quite there yet. “The one thing I found that I was missing the most was the element of creativity within our business. I’ve known the team at Cubaka for quite some time and they are brilliant storytellers.” That personal connection, and a shared client in Toyota, meant that Cubaka “kept bubbling back up to the top” of Next 15’s shopping list.
Cubaka will maintain its name under Brandwidth’s approach, but it will absorb Next 15 social content agency Mighty Social and remove to Brandwidth’s premises in London. The company may begin to embrace merging its subsidiary agencies more readily, Jones suggests, especially given the mini-network’s agencies share their data infrastructure already.
“The thing that connects us is the data; that tells us which campaigns work, which approaches work, which don’t. We are moving towards a branded house, rather than a house of brands approach. There will be something – at the moment it’s all behind the scenes – that connects us all.”
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The agency’s clients include Mattel, Virgin, Linda McCartney Foods and Toyota. Following the deal, Brandwidth’s headcount will rise to 140.
While he hopes the Cubaka purchase will help cover the need for creative and content services, Jones hints that other deficiencies will be addressed down the line as Brandwidth’s parent continues to hunt for boutique agency business.
“Next 15 is a very acquisitive group. It is also highly selective. It doesn’t just want to buy scale, it needs strategic capability. We don’t want to create a diluted large group or agency that can do everything. We want expert specialists to feel like boutiques within a group connected by data, operating as one business.
“What we’re looking for is that entrepreneurial fire in the belly, the spark that comes with a smallish, perfectly formed business that is doing one thing exceptionally well and has been for years.”