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IPG Entertainment Firms Make New Digital Investments Via Outside Shops
Holmes Report
Holmes Report
News and insights from the global PR industry

IPG Entertainment Firms Make New Digital Investments Via Outside Shops

Holmes Report

PMK·BNC recently absorbed the Bay Area-based independent social marketing firm Spokes to create digital agency Vowel. Meanwhile, sister agency Rogers & Cowan acquired Black Sheep SMG, including its founder Jenna Menking and 20 staffers across New York and Los Angeles.

In PMK’s case, the firm didn’t acquire Spokes but “absorbed” the entity for its expertise on social promotions, app development and straight-to-consumer projects. PMK had previously partnered with Spokes, and now upon bringing the shop into its fold is launching Vowel that will be helmed by its New York-based COO Joseph Assad. Its capabilities will be centered in developing digital properties (both front and back-end); evaluating an influencer’s impact on consumers and community management.

“At PMK, we’ve been good at baking digital/social into our brand and talent practices but we haven’t marketed it,” Assad says. “This is a way to round out that offering and put a stake in the ground around it.”

Given the overlap of offerings, Assad says Vowel and PMK will “work together a lot” with Vowel taking the lead on digital strategy, social, web development, SEO, analytics and apps. While content previously resided within PMK, it now moves to Vowel.

“Influencer marketing will reside in both,” he adds. Spokes co-founders Jeff Diamond joins Vowel as SVP  and Matt Kennerson as senior developer.

For Rogers & Cowan, Black Sheep will operate as a business unit of its parent agency with founder Menking reporting into CEO Tom Tardio. The purchase boosts R&C’s capabilities when it comes to social media, audience engagement and managing/revitalizing brands for celebs and experts. Black Sheep brings with it clients like chef Fabio Viviani and The DryBar.

Menking founded Black Sheep in 2006 around the potential for MySpace within the music industry and has since expanded. For instance, the firm runs “authority accounts” or subject-matter specific channels on social networks that its clients can tap into. Menking declined to name any of these channels but said the topics range from consumer electronics to culinary interests.

Acquiring talent has long been Tardio's method for growing the veteran entertainment shop's expertise beyond publicity. For instance, last year, R&C acquired Shannon Barr's ethnic marketing firm and Valerie Zucker's firm to expand into Miami.

Photo credit: Jason Howie
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