Acquisition adds digital advertising to integrated communications proposition.
San Diego, CA – Monday, March 2, 2015 – LEWIS PR, the global communications agency, has acquired Piston, a full service digital agency based in San Diego, CA. Piston specializes in digital marketing including search engine and display advertising, media planning and buying, analytics and creative design services. Piston’s clients include AAA, AARP, BareMinerals, Cars.com, Intuit, Inspirato, Mophie, Shiseido, SkullCandy, Sunglass Hut, TVG and Yakult. LEWIS now has global revenues in excess of $72 million, with combined US revenues of more than $37 million.
Lewis PR Acquired PistonThe deal strengthens LEWIS’ digital capabilities moving it firmly into paid media advertising and deepening its creative and analytics services. Piston gets access to LEWIS’ global network of 28 offices. Piston will operate under LEWIS Pulse, the agency’s digital marketing arm, alongside prior web design acquisition, Purestone in the UK.
Piston was founded by Michael Chaney, CEO and John Hartman, President in 2008. Hartman will continue to run Piston as a division with Chaney taking a non-executive role. Hartman will report into SVP of LEWIS Pulse, Stephen Corsi. Piston currently has 50 people based in San Diego.
“Our clients are looking for integrated communications campaigns. We’re seeing a huge uptick in demand for paid media programs – search engine marketing, online advertising, mobile programs,” said Stephen Corsi, SVP at LEWIS Pulse. “Piston combines the three things you need to get that right – strong creative, strategic media buying at scale with deep analytics. Piston works with tier one brands, and has a reputation which rivals the establishment. Together we’ll disrupt the industry much faster.”
“We are thrilled to join the LEWIS family. Both LEWIS and Piston are heavily focused on raising awareness, driving lead generation and sales enablement for clients, so there’s a great fit,” said John Hartman, President of Piston. “It’s not just lip-service, LEWIS is one of the few agencies that can offer a truly integrated approach, spanning PR, digital marketing, advertising and marketing consultancy services.”
“This deal with Piston fits our strategy to have the scale in the US to handle any client campaign, and to broaden our service proposition especially in digital. Where the oligarch firms have advertising and PR agencies at arms length, even competing for revenue, we’re offering a more agile and integrated approach,” said Chris Lewis, CEO of LEWIS. “I’d like to welcome Piston to the LEWIS family. We’re excited to have a stronger proposition for clients, and more career opportunities for staff as a result.”
The deal closed on February 20, 2015. The specific terms of the deal are undisclosed. In 2014, Piston had revenues of $8.4m. Prior LEWIS acquisitions include Leads United, PageOne PR, DMG, Purestone and EBA. LEWIS is actively looking for and in negotiation with further potential acquisitions. LEWIS was advised by McCracken Advisory Partners.
About the Deal
The deal is the first in what is expected to be a series of acquisitions to be made by LEWIS in 2015/16. These are being driven by a new $27m tranche of funding for growth provided by HSBC triggered by this deal.
Piston is a full service digital agency based in San Diego, CA. Piston specializes in digital marketing including search engine and display advertising, media planning and buying, analytics and creative design services. Piston is the winner of the 2014 iMedia Small Agency of the Year Award, 2014 San Diego Advertising Association Best of Show Award, 5 National American Advertising Federation Awards and is on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List. Piston’s clients include AAA, AARP, Avoya Travel, BareMinerals, Cars.com, Intuit, Inspirato, Mophie, Shiseido, SkullCandy, Sunglass Hut, TVG and Yakult.
LEWIS PR is a global communications agency with a 20-year track record of excellent client service. Average growth during this time has been in excess of 25% per annum. In 2014, the company grew 40% (16% organic). This year, annualized billings will be in excess of $100m for the first time in the company’s history.
In addition to traditional media and analyst relations, LEWIS specializes in social media, digital marketing and creative services. It works with companies to implement integrated communications programs on an international scale. LEWIS works with leading and emerging brands across multiple sectors, including automotive, consumer, government, healthcare, insurance, legal, non-profit, technology and telecom. LEWIS has 28 offices across the US, EMEA and Asia Pacific, with regional headquarters in London, San Francisco and Singapore.
About McCracken Advisory Partners
McCracken Advisory Partners is an Investment Banking firm specializing in Mergers and Acquisitions in Marketing Services, Technologies and Media with capabilities in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Sao Paulo.