Bite Next Fifteen

Next 15 Group to merge Bite Communications with Bourne to create global offer


By Stephen Lepitak, -

November 28, 2012 | 5 min read

Marketing services group Next 15 Communications is to merge its digital PR agency Bite Communications with digital marketing agency Bourne.

The resulting entity, named Bite, which will be run through the formation of a global board of directors including new CEO Andy Cunningham.

Cunningham will replace outgoing Bite CEO Clive Armitage from January and will be joined on the board by Bite Communications managing director Kath Pooley, who takes on a European leadership role; Bourne founder Dan Kersh who will lead the global marketing services team; president David Ketchum and Paul Mottram, executive vice president for Asia Pacific.

The merger will include new branding for Bite, with Bourne joining the fold under the same title, creating a company that has offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Glasgow, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Sydney, Bangalore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Mumbai and New Delhi.

Speaking to The Drum, Kersh and Pooley explained that they had been working together on the merger for several months, during which time the group has made a number of hires including Jon Silk, former head of digital at Waggener Edstrom, who takes up his position from next week (3 December), as well as former New Media Age editor Justin Pearse and Mike Harvey, former tech editor for The Times.

They explained that the content team - which includes Pearse, Harvey, former CIO Magazine editor Martin Veitch and ex-Channel Insider editor Sara Driscoll - is seen as being integral to the offer from the new entity.

“I truly believe we have the cream of the crop,” said Pooley, in highlighting the point of difference that they offer Bite from competitors.

“What we are able to say is that we can do all of the up-front discovery insight through a combination of Bourne’s brand planning directors and people within Bite such as Justin Pearse who can come in and highlight what the market really thinks and then create an insightful story."

Kersh added: “This is about turning the great insight offered by Bite’s content team into a great message, developing that into a programme and then analysising it, before going back to the insight team. We can go full circle, and being honest, before we’ve been unable to do that. Now we can.

"Our point of difference from other agencies who claim they can do the same is the expertise that we have in-house and we think that the content team has real strength in depth of audience knowledge.”

In their roles, Kersh and Pooley will now work closely together to develop the global proposition offered by Bite.

“The marketing teams are changing shape," said Pooley, as she explained that as a PR agency, Bite Communications was “always constrained” as it was seen as a “subset” to the marketing team, which reported into a chief marketing officer.

“You don’t always have permission to have the conversations you need at the top level, when actually, the client’s story is the brand.

"If you look at it from the client perspective, what they do from a marketing perspective can jar with what they say editorially. Being able to bring those two things together, with Bourne’s relationships at the CMO level, we are able to highlight the story and the point-of-view that makes the brand relevant and where they take it across sales, marketing and communications. Then we can look at the planning, the content, the creative and brand work and the activation work. That’s what clients have been missing and they have to move from being siloed within their own organisations and into this model of the future. “

Kersh continued: “We are internally going to have a function that serves global delivery, so a lot of what we do as Bourne offers a research across many difference markets, so from a creative-technology standpoint, strategic standpoint, we will be there to serve all of the regions, which is what I’ll look after.”

Bourne was acquired by Next Fifteen in May 2011.

Meanwhile, Next Fifteen revealed its half year figures earlier this week, which saw a revenue increase of six per cent £91.6m.

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