Global brand agency, The Brand Union, has absorbed Coley Porter Bell (South Africa) – a company owned by parent company, WPP – and acquired The Fearless Executive, an agency specialising in brand experience by designing brand driven solutions. The new company will operate as The Brand Union Africa from April.
CEO Anthony Swart told TheMediaOnline that because WPP owns Coley Porter Bell, “there was thus no additional investment into SA through this deal”. Swart added that there would be “no downsizing” and that “all staff have been absorbed”. The single company now has a staff complement of 50 people. The Fearless Executive’s managing director, Terry Behan, joins The Brand Union as the head of engagement.
The merging of the three companies comes as a result of a “long term strategic view” of the branding industry, according to Swart, who added that the “evolving needs of clients, as well as the changing nature of the industry”, required “a shift in what we deliver and how we deliver it”.
Swart said despite the merge into a single entity, there were no new divisions planned as yet. And clients? Most of them have already moved seamlessy into the new company. done so. “We have no issues with clients who are not entirely happy with the moves,” Swart said.
Much of the focus of the new company will be on Africa. “We have a lot of plans for Africa, where we are already very active. We do not however foresee the opening of more offices in Africa at present,” said Swart.
The focus on Africa was also a reason why The Fearless Executive moved fearlessly into the merger.
“Being essentially a specialised agency, we have always battled with gaining access and exposure to a global stage. The Brand Union provides us with this. Already we are rolling out brand engagement and brand experience solutions in East Africa, West Africa and the Middle East. It’s an exciting time and we are thrilled to be part of the union,” said Behan.
Swart said the Africa picture was “very positive”. “Brand understanding is at very different levels in countries in Africa, and the extent of our offer, and how it is implemented, varies by market. Greater collaboration with WPP partners will see our Africa business grow significantly over the next few years,” he said.
In a press release, the Brand Union said: “Looking for a breakthrough in terms of scale and African reach, the merger was a perfect fit as The Brand Union offered the required scope for expansion. The new injection of creative skill and inspiration will add greater diversity to our business.”