1 + 1 = 3: Rosetta and Brulant

Rosetta Acquires Brulant How do you build a top digital agency?

In July Rosetta announced the acquisition of interactive agency Brulant, where I am a partner in the Consumer Product and Retail practice.  The first couple of days since the announcement have been some of the most fun in my career.  The two firms build a compelling value proposition when combined, and I’ve spent a better part of those two days calling clients and friends to talk about it.

Acquisitions and mergers have negative connotations to many folks.  They can mean personnel conflicts, culture clashes and diluting of the “juice” that makes either one of the parties successful – not to mention distractions to high performing project teams.  I have friends who have been through it in the digital industry (think large conglomerates eating up smaller independent agencies), and there are many horror stories.  In stark contrast, being a part of this merger is ripe with excitement and promise.  We remain independent, and the services each agency provides complement each other.

“We are creating one of the nation’s biggest interactive agencies which will allow us to grow current relationships and build new ones quite dramatically,” said Chris Kuenne, Rosetta’s founder, chairman and CEO. “The interactive marketing landscape is rapidly shifting from mass to personalized targeting and from fuzzy equity measures to precisely measured, managed and optimized customer relationship economics.”

There is a science behind the shift from traditional media to targeted, personalized marketing, and Rosetta has figured it out.  Look at their client list– these are advanced organizations where how they market is a key differentiator in their success.  Infuse that with the execution capabilities of the teams I’ve watched deliver at Brulant, and it’s a powerful combination.

“You put your chocolate in my peanut butter!”

Rosetta is technically acquiring Brulant, but in reality the firms complement each other.  The breadth of Brulant’s interactive services in customer experience, acquisition marketing and technology implementation are the “chocolate” to Rosetta’s marketing strategy and personalized targeting offerings “peanut butter.”   The value proposition of bringing those capabilities together, along with the ever growing significance of the online channel and its influence on other channels, is a compelling service offering that puts Rosetta in a unique place in the market.  (I’m actually writing that because I believe it; it wasn’t spoonfed by our marketing team, I promise.)

Hey, that sounds great, but we have a lot of work to do.  On the first day of the announcement being public, I had the privilege of sitting with one of our top clients and the CEOs of both Brulant and Rosetta.  It was very clear in the conversation that the value proposition can be applied right away, and I will be spending lots of time with the “legacy” Rosetta team to understand their offering more in the coming weeks.

New opportunities

For me personally, this provides an opportunity to work with talented people and expand my professional horizons up the value chain.  Being in Boston and working on several clients in the New York City area, I am thrilled to see the expansion in the Northeast. This is also the first time I have been through an acquisition and watched an integration team get up and running.  I look forward to participating in building the new organization.  Can’t wait to see it in action and share what I learn, and I look forward to working with the Rosetta team. 

Have you been through an acquisition?  What are some pitfalls you’ve seen?  How would you advise we keep the momentum going through this exciting time with all of the “buzz”?

Check out Rosetta.com for more information.

Rosetta

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  • Congratulations on the merger! Sounds like a good pairing from both sides and which will only grow to become a stronger entity.
    All in all, you’re right: it’s difficult to hear “merge” or “acquire” without immediately thinking of negative connotations, but this seems like a true Voltron move to me.
    I look forward to hearing big things from you!

  • Congratulations on the merger! Sounds like a good pairing from both sides and which will only grow to become a stronger entity.

    All in all, you’re right: it’s difficult to hear “merge” or “acquire” without immediately thinking of negative connotations, but this seems like a true Voltron move to me.

    I look forward to hearing big things from you!

  • Thanks Zach, I appreciate it. We’re all very excited about it. I really love the Voltron analogy and will be using that one.

  • Thanks Zach, I appreciate it. We’re all very excited about it. I really love the Voltron analogy and will be using that one.

  • Congrats, Adam! Sounds like a good blend of talent and creativity. Please let me know when I can help with establishing the Louisville office. 🙂 Keep up the great work!

  • Congrats, Adam! Sounds like a good blend of talent and creativity. Please let me know when I can help with establishing the Louisville office. 🙂 Keep up the great work!

  • Rob Montilla

    Adam, I’ve been through an acquisition three times (all at the same company). A few things come to mind from my experience…

    * Corporate culture mindset. East Coast HQ’ed companies seem to have a much more business formal mentality than other regions. Shirt and tie with very rigid disciplines. The end goal is the same in terms of driven to success of course but there was always a more formal air about the companies which is challenging for the “mergees” not based in the East. This could be different with digital marketing agencies as they have a culture all their own but I have seen the East Coast style not necessarily translate well with Midwestern style.
    * Mergers and acquisitions are anything but a merger of equals. Someone always comes out on top. One of the acquiring companies in my past injected their leadership at the top of my former employer until they sold the company. Another acquiring company injected some of their folks at a layer below the CEO. These examples are both in a parent corporation scenario. However, look no further than the fiasco of the Time Warner/AOL “merger” — you don’t have a bunch of people with big ideas and big personalities ultimately happy to play nice together. Someone has to win.
    * Don’t let the “settling” that occurs from the merger/acquisition cloud the fun and great work to be had by the new opportunities. As leadership of the new entity stakes out which piece(s) of the new business they want to drive, others in the company can get very territorial as they become nervous about job security. Emphasize and show the staff how fun it will be to explore new verticals or new technology — this is the core of why you merged in the first place. The broader staff need to tangibly see the benefits early and often.

  • Rob Montilla

    Adam, I’ve been through an acquisition three times (all at the same company). A few things come to mind from my experience…

    * Corporate culture mindset. East Coast HQ’ed companies seem to have a much more business formal mentality than other regions. Shirt and tie with very rigid disciplines. The end goal is the same in terms of driven to success of course but there was always a more formal air about the companies which is challenging for the “mergees” not based in the East. This could be different with digital marketing agencies as they have a culture all their own but I have seen the East Coast style not necessarily translate well with Midwestern style.

    * Mergers and acquisitions are anything but a merger of equals. Someone always comes out on top. One of the acquiring companies in my past injected their leadership at the top of my former employer until they sold the company. Another acquiring company injected some of their folks at a layer below the CEO. These examples are both in a parent corporation scenario. However, look no further than the fiasco of the Time Warner/AOL “merger” — you don’t have a bunch of people with big ideas and big personalities ultimately happy to play nice together. Someone has to win.

    * Don’t let the “settling” that occurs from the merger/acquisition cloud the fun and great work to be had by the new opportunities. As leadership of the new entity stakes out which piece(s) of the new business they want to drive, others in the company can get very territorial as they become nervous about job security. Emphasize and show the staff how fun it will be to explore new verticals or new technology — this is the core of why you merged in the first place. The broader staff need to tangibly see the benefits early and often.