Demonstrating its commitment to its move into digital marketing, IBM today announced its intent to acquire Resource/Ammirati, a U.S.-based digital marketing and creative agency.
IBM will combine the companies’ strategic, creative and technology talents to help customers seeking to reinvent themselves for the digital economy. The deal is projected to close in the first quarter of 2016. Financial details were not disclosed.
This is IBM’s first acquisition of a digital marketing creative agency and adds to IBM’s design and digital experience capabilities, which include IBM Interactive Experience (IBM iX). IBM has more than 1,000 designers working with strategists, developers and consultants to combine the power of design and technology for clients.
“We’ve been on the path for some years now to help our clients transform digitally,” John Armstrong, North American leader for IBM Interactive Experience, who was critical in making the deal, told eWEEK. “We’ve been working on the design elements of digital reinvention, the analytics associated with that, and the mobility of the platforms to support that. We have 26 studios globally, and we began to look for partners and opportunities to create synergy and scale in the way that we go to market. With Resource/Ammirati we have a partner that we intend to acquire that has a 30-year history of dictating change and adapting and now participating very meaningfully in the digital economy.”
Columbus, Ohio-based Resource/Ammirati will help IBM in North America and join over 10,000 IBM iX employees to support demand for its services. Resource/Ammirati’s more than 300 associates across its offices in Columbus, Chicago and New York will continue to serve a diverse roster of clients spanning consumer goods, retail and financial services companies such as Birchbox, DSW, Nationwide, Nestlé, Newell Rubbermaid, North American Breweries, Shaw Industries, Sherwin Williams, Toys R Us and White Castle, among others.
“Resource/Ammirati has built its own stellar brand and reputation on a long, distinguished record of advancing leading brands in every industry,” said Paul Papas, global leader of IBM Interactive Experience, in a statement. “That portfolio of work and proven expertise is a perfect complement to the experience design capabilities of iX—where we bring clients a distinct fusion of industry insight, design thinking and end-to-end digital transformation, from the experience of the individual to the core processes of the client’s enterprise.”
IBM Interactive Experience works at the intersection of business, art and technology to provide next-generation services to help organizations with digital transformation.
IBM said from strategy, creative and design to scalable digital, commerce, mobile and wearable platforms—like consumer apps for the Apple Watch—its team of specialists work side-by-side with clients including Air Canada, Boston Children’s Hospital, Citi and Staples across 24 global IBM Studios to co-create innovations that drive results.
The digital marketing agency in some ways overlaps with the things IBM does in commerce and some of the mobile design and development elements, but there are unique features both to IBM and Resource/Ammirati that form the basis of IBM’s decision to acquire the firm, Armstrong said. To Ammirati clients, IBM brings a depth of analytics, cognitive capability with Watson and a whole suite of commerce assets. For IBM’s clients, Resource/Ammirati has a long tradition of serving the CMO, brand-building capabilities, experience design capabilities, content creation dissemination, as well as production capability in its studio in Columbus.
IBM to Buy Digital Marketing Agency Resource Ammirati
“We see the imperative to infuse analytics and insight into everything we do from an experience standpoint,” Armstrong said. “It’s one thing to design a great experience in terms of its visualization or its efficiency, but the expectation consumers have is for a personalized experience. And that personalized experience can’t exist if you aren’t applying what we know about a customer to really guide the way we deliver the experience—whether that’s digitally or in the physical realm. These guys are passionate about Watson and we’re eager to ensure the doors of IBM are flung open.”
Founded in 1981 with Apple as its first client, Resource/Ammirati has been known for pioneering firsts in the digital marketing space—from infamously “breaking the Internet” in 1999 with the Victoria’s Secret Webcast Fashion Show during the Super Bowl to being the first to tackle Facebook’s e-commerce capability for The Limited, Home Depot and P&G to creating Sherwin-Williams’ ColorSnap Studio, an Ad Age “App of the Decade,” and the first-ever digital personalized circular, CVS’ myWeekly Ads, IBM said.
The agency also has a rich tradition of thought leadership, including the 2008 book The OPEN Brand that provided marketers with a playbook for navigating the “always on,” technology-inspired and consumer-driven OPEN era. In 2014, Resource acquired advertising firm Ammirati, establishing its presence in New York and adding branding and design capabilities to round out the firm’s creative, digital and e-commerce offering for a growing base of clients.
“We see in IBM iX a reflection of Resource/Ammirati’s own mission to use creativity, technology and collaboration to make anything possible for our clients,” said Nancy Kramer, Resource/Ammirati’s founder and chairman, in a statement. “Our associates and clients will all benefit from IBM’s global reach and resources, including access to additional strategic, design and development talent as well as powerful analytics and technology expertise in cloud, mobile development and systems integration. Additionally, IBM’s legacy of progressive, associate-centric practices is a perfect match for our company’s culture.”
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said he believes the acquisition of Resource/Ammirati should be highly complementary to IBM’s Interactive Experience digital advertising solutions and services by bringing value in terms of the experience of its management and staff, its existing portfolio of services and a client list that includes numerous world-class, global companies.
“At the same time, IBM’s strengths in design and other digitally-driven skills and technologies, including cognitive and analytics, should prove highly synergistic to R/A offerings, resulting in enhanced and entirely new services and solutions,” King said. “Overall, this deal should prove to be highly beneficial for both companies, along with their existing and prospective clients.”