Kepler Group, a New York-based agency focused on programmatic, media activation and CRM, revealed Wednesday it has been acquired by kyu, a collective of marketing, consulting and design companies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
kyu operates under Hakuhodo DY holdings, one of Japan’s largest marketing holding companies behind Dentsu.
While kyu’s agencies, which include design shop IDEO, digital agency Digital Kitchen and creative agency Sid Lee, are heavy on strategy and design, Kepler brings in the ability to message consumers, said Rick Greenberg, CEO of Kepler Group.
Through Kepler, kyu will inherit the Kepler Intelligence Platform, a proprietary database, decisioning and workflow management tool that automates the media buying process from ad creation to targeting.
“kyu has powerful companies in proposition development, product design, behavioral economics and creative,” Greenberg said. “We complete that mix by activating those capabilities in the marketplace through media and CRM.”
Kepler said it has been courted by a few traditional holding companies since it spun out of MediaMath as an independent digital agency in 2012. However, it was impressed by kyu’s focus on using creativity for social and cause-driven marketing projects, Greenberg said.
“kyu is a remarkably cool group of companies and a remarkably cool project,” he said. “It really broke from the pack in terms of the companies they’ve pulled together, the mission they’re following and the people running those companies.”
kyu works with big brands but also with governments, nonprofits and foundations that align with social causes. Projects range from improving lives in the United Arab Emirates to redesigning the school system for Peru’s middle class.
Kepler will operate as a separate entity under kyu, continuing work with its existing clients including American Express, Bed Bath & Beyond, J.Crew, Fidelity and 1-800 Contacts.
Because several Kepler clients work with kyu companies already, Greeberg said, Kepler will also explore opportunities to cross-sell across the network, as well as co-locate with kyu entities in emerging markets.
Under kyu, Kepler hopes to grow its team of 170 employees in new markets beyond the US.
“Major advertisers increasingly want to work with fewer, more global partners,” Greenberg said. “We’re going to be able to expand our footprint quicker than we would otherwise.”