“We started what was a very informal meeting, and then three hours later, PJ [Pereira] and I looked at each other anyway and said that this could be a fantastic opportunity for both companies.”
Andrew O’Dell, CEO of Pereira O’Dell, is recalling the first time he met Florian Haller and the management team at Serviceplan. Last week it was announced that Pereira O’Dell, the highly awarded, bi-coastal US agency, had joined forces with Serviceplan
, the German-born, independent, global agency. Serviceplan’s worldwide network spans 35 countries and disciplines ranging from creative to more data and technologically led approaches, while Pereira O’Dell’s operations are rooted in New York and San Francisco. The new alliance, which involves Serviceplan purchasing a 30% stake of Pereira O’Dell, is intended to beef up the international presence of both entities. It’ll allow for Serviceplan to make better headway in the US and Pereira O’Dell to both expand its capabilities in the US and have a greater international footprint.
“The chemistry was instantaneous,” Andrew adds about that first meeting in New York during October 2019. “The fit was so natural in terms of what they were looking to do the same thing for us. It was a great meeting.” Andrew flew to Munich a I flew to Munich about a month later to see if that first great meeting could be replicated. “I came away even more impressed, and that's when we started mapping out what this could look like, and what a deal could look like. They were only interested in a minority aspect of POD and that's the only thing we were interested in so it fit perfectly.”
“The foundation of this partnership is sharing the same values of independence and entrepreneurship. We also share the same vision to build the leading independent agency group globally,” adds Markus Noder, managing director and partner at Serviceplan International. “And overall it is the people! Andrew and PJ are amazing individuals. They and the whole team fit to the culture of Serviceplan, which is based on trust and an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Speaking deeper about the ambitions of this partnership, Andrew cites the benefits of having an active investment partner, “somebody that is going to take interest” in your business. “It’s not just a 30%, right? It's about how they can maximise that to help us grow.” He adds that over the next 18 to 24 months or so, Pereira O’Dell will begin to really start looking at potential acquisition areas in the US that will expand the agency’s capabilities to better serve practices like UX, UI and deeper data and analytics. “That’s all in service of our clients and providing them deeper capability in the US,” he says. “But then there's international footprint, their coverage in Europe and Asia is incredibly important for us because POD, our brand, is already a little global but really has no capability there. Now it has that capability. That was incredibly important for us.”
Stefan Schuette, CEO of Serviceplan USA, says that Pereira O’Dells “branded entertainment and production services are unmatched” in the US with the potential to bring a “new level of creativity” to the group’s clients. “On a group level, we are looking to take on the major agency networks,” he says. “We offer better service to clients because we aren't beholden to shareholders. There are also synergies across our client rosters, meaning we can offer international reach for POD’s clients while their creative excellence strengthens our offering for global clients in the US market.”
Looking to the future, all parties seem pretty set on their ambitions and plans despite the uncertainty that life during Covid brings. For Markus, it’s “to win some bigger accounts in the US and roll-out some US clients to Europe and / or Asia”, while his counterpart Stefan says that taking on one or two “global, heavy-weight clients as a team would be a dream come true”.
“First of all, we’d love to show clients success,” adds Andrew. “Being able to take a few of our clients that are global brands, and providing international work through Serviceplan. Secondly, to win a global piece of business together. And then within 12 months or so, I would hope that we have the beginnings of our first acquisition in the US.”