J. Walter Thompson has finally acquired a direct marketing operation in the UK with its purchase of the independent agency Black Cat.
Black Cat, which is the UK's fourth-largest independent below-the-line agency, employs 100 staff and offers direct, interactive and promotional marketing services.
The acquisition ends months of on/off negotiations between JWT and Black Cat. Talks began last spring but were called off as JWT considered launching a direct marketing start-up instead. It was in discussions with Steve Barton, now a partner at Leonardo, and the creative duo Shaun McIlrath and Ian Harding, now partners at the HHCL & Partners agency Rainmaker, but the deal fell through.
Black Cat will continue to operate as a separate agency and will keep its name. It is based in Richmond on Thames.
The deal will bring JWT a much needed direct marketing operation while Black Cat will gain access to JWT's information, data and planning resources.
There are no client conflicts between the two agencies. Black Cat clients include Coca-Cola, Holsten and Yahoo!.
JWT has already made similar acquisitions of local direct marketing agencies in Italy, Holland, Spain and Germany.
Stephen Callender, the Black Cat joint managing director, said: 'JWT is at the pinnacle of advertising and we felt that they are an intelligent bunch of people. We decided that the interests of our clients and staff would be best served by the agency joining a larger marketing group. JWT has an outstanding reputation for brand building, strategy and client service, which makes them absolutely right for Black Cat.'
Michael Madel, the president and chief executive officer of JWT Europe, said: 'We have been looking for exactly the right partner to enable JWT London to deliver the total communications offering that clients are demanding. Black Cat is a uniquely good fit for JWT in terms of culture, demanding real efficacy from all the work they do.'