New Delhi: Dentsu Aegis Network on Monday said it has bought local public relations (PR) firm Perfect Relations Group, which will retain its branding. The acquisition further strengthens Dentsu’s overall communications offering in the Indian market. Although Dentsu did not reveal the deal size, PR industry executives estimate it around Rs200-250 crore.
India’s public relations market size is estimated at Rs1,200 crores growing at a rate of 15%.
Perfect Relations Group’s presence spans across 19 offices and 50 cities in India with over 500 associates, offering services including corporate reputation management, brand and marketing communications, media management and crisis management. The group comprises Perfect Relations, Accord Public Relations, Image Public Relations, Imprimis Life PR, India Media Monitor and Buzz. Its clients include The Coca-Cola Co., Nokia, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Honda Motor Co., among others.
Joining the Dentsu Aegis leadership team are group’s managing director Dilip Cherian and chief executive officer (CEO) of Perfect Relations Group Pradeep (Bobby) Kewalramani, who will report to Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia.
Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia, added, “We did not have a PR company in our group in India. The acquisition is in line with our ambition be the No. 2 group in India by 2017. We wanted to provide all marketing communications related services to our clients and PR being one of them. Perfect Relations has a great reputation and are strong enough to handle the scale required to service big clients with a national footprint. In any partnership, one must have chemistry and a common ground to pull things together. The senior management of Perfect Relations brings that to table as well.”
Dilip Cherian, managing director of Perfect Relations Group stated, “Fortunately for us, only the ownership changes while management remains the same. Business will only get better. This deal has helped become a part of a brand which is as trustworthy as Perfect Relations. It allows our clients and colleagues to access a range of skills, training and resources that we haven’t been able to expand into the last 25 years.”
Welcoming the development, PR industry leaders believe that the acquisition highlights the healthy growth in the industry and continued focus of international conglomerates in the Indian market.
Madan Bahal, managing director of independent PR firm Adfactors, said: “This acquisition is a testimonial of the fact that global buyers continue to have interest in the Indian market. It also gives exit route to promoters of the PR agencies who build value over the years and are able to eventually monetise it. For agency’s clients and employees, it is a way to have international exposure which when combined with local capabilities will only result in promising growth.”
Talking about the growth in the business, Bahal said that in the last few years, large agencies haven’t been able to grow at a fast pace unlike the new crop of small agencies who continue to drive growth.
“It’s great to see that international networks continue to be infused both by the India market in general and public relation as a discipline specifically. It sends a very strong signal that the interest is continuing. Public relations, as a business, continue to grow in double digits,” said Amit Misra, chief executive officer at PR firm MSLGROUP India.
Mishra echoes Bahal’s observation and adds that it is heartening to see new firms such as First Partners and Pitchfork Partners being set up validating that the promising future of public relations business.
Nitin Mantri, CEO Avian Media and president, Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) notes that it is probably for the first time that an advertising and media company is buying into a large PR firm in India. An Asian Group increasing its presence in the country has not happened in a long while as well.
Prema Sagar, founder of the PR firm Genesis which was later sold to to New York-US based Burson-Marsteller in 2005-06, said: “I personally went through that phase on whether to sell my venture or not but then I realised the decision wasn’t just about me. The colleagues who have built the company with me also wanted growth. Acquisition also gives independent agencies the reach that helps services big global clients which will not come to you otherwise,” said Sagar, now vice chair at Burson-Marsteller Asia Pacific, and principal of Genesis Burson-Marsteller.
Part of Japan’s Dentsu Inc., Dentsu Aegis Network is made up of nine global network brands—Carat, Dentsu, Dentsu media, iProspect, Isobar, mcgarrybowen, MKTG, Posterscope and Vizeum and supported by its specialist/multi-market brands. The network is headquartered in London and operates in 145 countries worldwide with around 32,000 employees.
In India, Dentsu Aegis Network is supported through its global network brands namely Carat, iProspect, Isobar, Posterscope, Vizeum, MKTG and Amnet along with the Dentsu branded agencies—Dentsu Impact, Dentsu One, Dentsu India, Dentsu Media, Taproot Dentsu and Dentsu Webchutney. Also, newly added to the group are the recently acquired local brands Milestone Brandcom, WATConsult and Fountainhead.