Karma Communications Acquires Crayon

Karma Communications unites creativity, digital and data with the acquisition of Crayon

Today the Karma Communications Group announces its next major step in fulfilling its ambition to create a new integrated force in the independent sector of the marketing communications industry, by combining creativity with data-driven digital and direct expertise. This entails the acquisition of the Crayon group, the leading UK-based digital communications agency, to work alongside Karmarama, one of the UK’s most highly regarded independent integrated advertising agencies. Karma Communications aims to grow into an international challenger agency group, providing clients with best-in-class creative solutions across every step of the customer journey.

The Karma Communications Group came into existence with the announcement in May 2011 of the investment by Phoenix Equity Partners, the UK-based mid market private equity investor, in Karmarama, together with its sister agencies Kream and Kaper. The group is owned jointly by Phoenix and its senior management team.

Crayon was founded in 1998 as Hicklin Slade and Partners. Its principal shareholders are Senior Partners Matthew Brown, Justin Hicklin, and Mark Runacus. Following a number of acquisitions, it re-branded as Crayon in 2009. The group comprises a number of operating entities: Crayon London – its integrated digital marketing services agency; data analytics-based customer insights consultancy, Crayon CI; technology and software services provider, Zigzag; and market research agency, Walk a Mile.

Following today’s announcement, the Karma Communications Group will have over 250 professional staff across the Crayon and Karmarama groups, serving a range of clients including: BT; Camelot; Honda; Lloyds Banking Group; the BBC; Nintendo; Costa; and Unilever. It is intended to co-locate all Karma Communications businesses in 2012 to facilitate the delivery of a truly integrated offering for clients.

Commenting on this news Charles Watson, Chairman of the Karma Communications Group said: “Today marks the next milestone in the development of the Karma Communications group. The combination of the creative capabilities of Karmarama with Crayon’s data-driven digital expertise will enable us to service the ever-increasing requirements of our clients’ brands across the full extent of the customer journey. We look forward in the near future to announcing the next steps in Karma Communications’ development, with the strong support of our investment partner, Phoenix. In the meantime, I am delighted to welcome the Crayon senior team as colleagues and co-shareholders in Karma Communications.”

Justin Hicklin, of Crayon added: “We have grown dramatically over the last decade from our origins as a direct marketing and sales promotion agency into the data driven digital agency of today. We wanted to continue that aggressive development within the UK and internationally, and felt it was time to identify the best partners to help realise our ambition. One of the challenges we have faced is finding the best way of accessing capital to continue investing in our growth, whilst retaining the independence and entrepreneurialism that is so central to the culture of our business. Today’s news provides the perfect solution and we are thrilled to be joining our new like-minded colleagues. By becoming a key component of Karma Communications, I am confident that the opportunities which will arise for our people and clients alike are substantial.”

Ben Bilboul CEO of Karmarama said: “On behalf of all my colleagues at Karamarama, Kream and Kaper, I am delighted to welcome into our extended family all our new colleagues from across the Crayon businesses. Crayon has an extremely sophisticated, data-driven understanding of customer behavior, which we fully intend to put at the heart of our creative development process. It’s a perfect marriage of art and science that we believe will better serve today’s clients and their customers.”

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