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IAS b2b begins plans for world conquest with Aastroem Munier BBN acquisition in Paris


By Stephen Lepitak | -

March 30, 2012 | 6 min read

The Drum has arrived at the British Embassy in Paris, a large, diplomatic but beautiful historical building, to meet with b2b agency IAS as it announces the strategy behind its Parisian acquisition.

The Embassy, it would seem, is harder to get into than Britain itself, as identifications and belongings are checked scrupulously before entry.

On an unusually warm day at the end of March, it is at this lavish venue where IAS will announce its six-figure acquisition of Aastroem Munier BBN.

Also on the cards is a declaration from managing director Rob Morrice that IAS, the reigning BMA agency of the year, now aims for world domination of the b2b marketing sector.

This begins with the Parisian boutique agency joining both IAS and its parent company MSQ Partners, after a year of talks with its founder Stephane Munier, who becomes the new strategic planning director and creative director, and co-founder William Below.

"While it's an acquisition, most of the money will go towards developing the agency," explains Morrice.

The talks began as a result of the two agencies being members of international body the the Business Branding Network (BBN).

"The idea of trying to create a more dynamic and faster approach to what we are doing with our partner agencies and speed up the process of getting a leading position within the b2b marketplace is an idea that Rob and I have shared for a long time already," explains Munier.

"Both Stephan and I believe in developing one offering that takes one client from a blank sheet of paper to results," Morrice elaborated.

"We will use agencies owned and branded by IAS. It's about people joining us and delivering an integrated offering in all of the primary markets, such as the UK, America and Germany. Any market that is big enough to have big clients where they control their marketing within, we will have IAS agencies and then the rest of the network will franchise the offering, and BBA members will be associates."

As to why the targeting of a French company makes sense for IAS, Munier claims that France is comparable with Germany in terms of the exportation market, although instead of having many 'mid-size' companies, he says the country has been successful in developing some 'large corporations' belonging to the top five within their categories, citing Michelin and ATOS as two such success stories.

"The potential market in France is even bigger than the one in the UK," he continues, before highlighting a demand for an integrated offering from b2b agencies in France.

Morrice corroborates Munier's claims, revealing that the agency's own research found that there was more global expenditure controlled from France than in the UK, second only to Germany.

"There is no reason why we can't replicate our UK success in France and our plan is to get to the scale within five years that we're number one in France and the same in every other company we set up in. If we do that, we will be number one in the world," claims Morrice.

The strategy and the service offering that will aim to take the business on such a trajectory has been outlined in a white paper entitled 'Industrious Revolution' that the agency is currently presenting to companies and intends to place openly on its website.

Morrice also reveals that the strategy across the globe will be a mixture of acquisitions, mergers and start ups, depending on what is appropriate for each region.

The Drum believes that Aberdeen agency Fifth Ring is likely to be the next agency to come into the fold, although Morrice would not comment.

Of the recent developments at parent company MSQ Partners (previously Media Square) going through a management buyout at the end of last year, it is admitted that the deal was held up as a result.

The new company however, will see key executives within each of its agencies, join through the expansion drive, and they will also be MSQ shareholders.

Present in Paris, Peter Reid, chief executive of MSQ Partners, revealed a glimpse of his own ambitions when he lauded the agency's strategy, saying: "IAS has a clear vision of becoming a global leader of marketing communications, which sets an example of the strategies that we are employing across group. 1st step along the way."

The strategy may already be working, as The Drum was present when a major French brand requested a meeting in April, upon the basis of viewing the IAS Paris website.

World domination of b2b has potentially begun.


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