Perth advertising agency 303 has merged with international firm Lowe in a deal giving the big partner 51 per cent of the firm.
303 managing director Alan Taylor told WA Business News the company had attracted interest from multi-national ad agencies in the past, but none that met 303’s criteria for a merger.
“We always said the only way we would ever consider doing anything like this was if it was good for our clients, good for our staff and aligned with our vision for the 303 brand,” Mr Taylor said.
He said that retaining a large stake in the business as well as being aligned culturally with Lowe carried equal importance for 303.
Lowe global chief executive Michael Wall’s vision for the company as well as its internal values were also appealing, he said.
“He talked about his vision for the Lowe brand, not just globally, but also in Australia and within a very short space of time you could tell that we were very aligned,” Mr Taylor said.
“The first conversations we had with Michael were never about money and numbers, they were about the work, which was really refreshing.
“They have this wonderful positioning ‘populist creativity’, and it is this idea about working together to create work, which is not only exceptional but also really connects with people. It’s about putting brands at the heart of popular culture.”
303’s management team will remain at the helm of the business, with chief executive Nick Cleaver heading it up.
303’s Sydney office will combine with Lowe’s existing Sydney office to grow the NSW team from 35 to 50, bringing the national staff total to between 120 and 130. Both the Sydney and Perth offices will come under the renamed 303 Lowe brand.
“It was really important to us that we retained a significant stake in the business and that there is a long-term option for us to maintain a broad-based local ownership,” Mr Cleaver said.
“We believe 303 Lowe will provide tremendous opportunities for our people and a substantial resource base from which to service our clients.”
Mr Taylor said the merger offered 303 the opportunity for greater collaboration for project strategies and said the working relationship between 303 and Lowe’s major US brand, Deutsch, based in New York and Los Angeles, had already begun.
The clout of an international firm like Lowe is attractive for 303, according to Mr Taylor.
“We have had a successful foray into Sydney and we have always taken the view that we want to build 303 as a world-class, international standard agency that happens to have started in Perth,” he said.
“It brings international credentials to us, and it will provide access to an international network, which will open up opportunities for our clients and staff.”
Being aligned with the Lowe brand while it is going through its revival was also a deal maker.
“Lowe was one of the hottest brands in the world, and was responsible for some amazing work over many years with Tesco, Stella Artois and Heineken,” Mr Taylor said.
“Then they had a little bit of a tough time, but they are on the resurgence … they are really starting to reapply their presence as a significant force again.”