Guy Sellers, the chief executive of Total Media, said it made sense for his independent agency to open an office in Germany with the backing of Mediaplus, a subsidiary of Germany’s biggest independent agency group, Serviceplan, because of "continued market uncertainty around Brexit".
Thilo Kramer, managing director of Mediaplus International, said the UK is still an attractive place for German clients to do business, although Britain’s departure from the European Union could lead to a hiatus in the short term.
"Is Brexit going to change the UK’s place in the global media and marketing industry? It could do, if you don’t take some necessary steps, which is part of our approach to Thilo and his team," Sellers said.
"While there’s no legal challenge to doing business in Europe [after Brexit], there might be an emotional one with [international] clients. Hopefully the joint venture will give confidence to any client worrying about Brexit."
Sellers said it was crucial to reassure clients because a growing number have been using London as a headquarters for their media activity across Europe and the agency's international revenues have risen 34% in the last year.
Total Media, which styles itself as a behavioural planning agency, counts Epson, Lenovo and Investec as clients.
Kramer said Mediaplus’ largely German client base, which includes BMW, Lindt chocolates and Deichmann shoes, is also likely to worry about Brexit, but he believes the UK remains a good long-term bet.
"The inclination of clients on the continent to go to the UK will be inhibited for a little while, until its clearer what the parameters are that you can operate in," Kramer said.
"Then I think it will be business as usual. We’ll always be connected to the UK."
Total Media owns 60% and Mediaplus owns 40% of the Total Mediaplus JV in Munich. The shareholdings have been reversed in London where Mediaplus owns 60% and Total Media owns 40% of the UK venture.
It is a second international foray for Total Media, which cited Brexit as part of the reason for opening a technology and innovation hub in Estonia in October 2017.
Mediaplus already has alliances with agencies in a number of other European markets from Norway to Dubai but has not operated in the UK until now.
That means Total Media’s clients will potentially have access to markets across Europe.
Kramer said he felt Total Media and Mediaplus had "the same mindset and standards".
Total Media was founded in 1982 and Mediaplus was set up in 1983.