Red Cell, the fourth global network being launched by Martin Sorrell's WPP to focus on 'challenger' brands, is to acquire a New York agency.
The network will link the 14 Conquest offices in Europe, rebranded with the new name, with Singapore's Batey Advertising, Seattle's Cole & Weber and the UK integrated agency Perspectives.
But senior executives of the fledgling operation concede that having a presence in New York is essential if they want to be taken seriously and expect a deal to be concluded in the next few weeks.
The Red Cell initiative is an attempt by WPP to exploit the growing polarisation of the ad industry and to capitalise on what it sees as an expanding 'middle ground'. It will service international brands spending between dollars 50 million and dollars 100 million.
One of the key offerings of the grouping will be its 'eclectic network' of consultants, including Bob Geldof, as well as academics, doctors and film-makers who will help crack specific ad briefs.
The 1,000-strong network claims dollars 1 billion worth of billings. Its clients include Alfa Romeo cars, Conquest's founding account in 1988, Singapore Airlines and Nike.