Seeking "savoir-faire," Publicis buys Rosetta for $575 million

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Publicis is padding its digital health agency supergroup with a $575 million-plus acquisition of Rosetta Marketing Group.

Like Publicis' Digitas and Razorfish, Rosetta boasts digital expertise and a big health practice, with a client roster including Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Allergan as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield and a host of non-health blue chips like T-Mobile and Hewlett-Packard (Rosetta founder and CEO Chris Kuenne cut his teeth at J&J, where he spent 10 years working on consumer health brands before launching the agency in 1998). With a staff of 1,100, the agency is headquartered in Princeton and has nine offices in the US and Canada.

Rosetta will continue as a standalone shop led by CEO Kuenne, who will report to Publicis Groupe COO Jean-Yves Naouri. Publicis projected that the acquisition of Rosetta, which boasts revenues of around $250 million, would bring the percentage of the holding company's annual revenue derived from digital to more than 30%. The French firm aims to raise its digital share of revenues to 35% in three years.

Publicis chairman and CEO Maurice Levy said in a statement: “The acquisition of Rosetta is a key next step in our strategy to become the ‘human, all digital agency group.' We built [Publicis meta-network] VivaKi with the aim of accelerating the shift of our clients to the future. With Digitas and Razorfish we acquired fantastic talent, know-how and technology and successfully integrated them into VivaKi and Publicis Groupe. With Rosetta, we aim to enrich our digital knowledge, our capabilities in technology, marketing consulting and digital strategy, and the creativity we offer to clients and advertisers.…Rosetta's value proposition is unique in that it combines its savoir-faire in consulting and strategic services with its expertise in technology and creative agency services.”
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