M&C Saatchi acquires majority stake in digital agency Creative Spark

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Creative Spark, a digital agency based in Cape Town, has been snapped up by M&C Saatchi in a majority-stake deal that will see Creative Spark work from within the M&C Saatchi stable.

According to Memeburn, which is published by Creative Spark, the takeover agreement has been in the works since 2014 and is rumoured to be worth around R50 million. That would make sense, as the five-year-old agency has annual revenues of around R20 million.

In addition to Memeburn, Creative Spark is also responsible for the publication of VentureBurn and GearBurn. Creative Spark was started by Matthew Buckland, who will retain a stake in the company.

“Our model is usually a start-up, entrepreneur-led one. But every now and then you come across a quality independent business where the owner is looking to become part of something bigger in order to grow. Matthew Buckland is one of those rare people who has built a great company with a highly skilled team and quality clients. Creative Spark is ready to take the next step in their growth story,” said Moray MacLennan, CEO of the M&C Saatchi Global network in a press statement.

The deal sets out that Creative Spark will continue to operate a standalone digital agency within its Johannesburg offices based at M&C Saatchi Abel.

Mike Abel, who heads the Johannesburg M&C Saatchi office, laid out how the structure will work.

“Our Cape Town agency already has an outstanding in-house digital offering. M&C Saatchi and Creative Spark will support through complementary services (e.g. development) — but the Johannesburg model based on client need was to identify the best partner to support them in a fully integrated model, so Creative Spark Johannesburg is housed within the [M&C Saatchi Abel] Johannesburg agency,” he said.

Buckland added that Creative Spark has had a number of acquisition requests in the past, but turned all of them down – until now.

“We have had many approaches throughout the history of the company. But we decided not to execute on those for various reasons. This tie-up, however, makes complete sense”.

M&C Saatchi Abel was recently named Agency of the Year at the annual Financial Mail AdFocus Awards.

[Image – CC by 2.0/Reinhold Brezovszky]

Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.