WPP's AKQA is expanding to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore as WPP AUNZ agency DT joins the network.
DT has about 220 staff, and the expansion takes AKQA’s global staff to over 2,000, with 21 studios in Europe, the US and now Asia-Pacific.
Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA’s chief executive, said DT’s "talent and track record will strengthen the AKQA community" as it seeks to work with "progressive clients" in what he described as "a world where digital is everywhere". The two agencies have already begun working together.
With clients including Bunnings, Optus, Bupa and Tourism Australia, DT enjoyed "double-digit" growth in 2016—the most successful year in its 21-year history, according to the agency.
DT will continue to operate under its own name in the short term, but will fully rebrand as AKQA within the calendar year, CEO Brian Vella told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
"The reason for that is, DT is a 20-year-old business in Australia," said Vella, who will join the AKQA executive team. "There's a long history and heritage here, and so we're very keen to make sure we manage this process smoothly for our clients and stakeholders."
A 16-year veteran of the company, Vella said DT has been run like an independent, but at the same time has "been looking for what our next horizon looks like".
While DT is "strong and credible" in its markets, joining AKQA creates a global offering to match with anyone else in market, he said. "Locally, we're not being disrupted in any way. We will get benefits from AKQA as we see fit, and we will also be helping to shape and influence them. We'll co-create the future together."
AKQA and DT have similar histories. AKQA was founded in 1995 and sold to WPP in 2012. DT was set up in 1996 and WPP initially bought a stake in 2012 before increasing its shareholding.
DT has previously had an alliance with WPP’s creative network, Ogilvy & Mather, in parts of Australasia.
Michael Connaghan, WPP’s Australia and New Zealand chief executive, said: "Combining the cultural influence, core values and global calibre of AKQA with the capability and coverage of DT represents an extraordinary platform to create the world-leading brand experience agency."
AKQA has already added more than 300 new employees during the last 18 months.