Japanese holding company HDY acquires Digital Kitchen

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The lobby of the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, for which Digital Kitchen won the 2011 Cannes Grand Prix Award.
The lobby of the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, for which Digital Kitchen won the 2011 Cannes Grand Prix Award.

Based in Japan, the world's seventh-largest holding company extends its US reach

Japanese holding company Hakuhodo DY Holdings is expanding its footprint in the United States with the acquisition of creative content shop Digital Kitchen.
The purchase is the latest step by Michael Birkin, a former Omnicom Group vice chairman, to establish a globe-spanning operating unit of Hakuhodo known as kyu (pronounced "Q"). Kyu’s first two acquisitions — marketing services firm Red Peak Group and brand consultancy SYPartners — came in May of 2014. Birkin, now CEO of kyu, had been founder and chairman of Red Peak Group.
"We have admired Digital Kitchen for some time," said Birkin in a release. "They combine the roles of strategic advisors and content makers in the way they build brands for their clients. This ability comes from their heritage and experience in both entertainment and content marketing and, most importantly, from their DNA of producing and making what they conceive."
Founded in 1995, Digital Kitchen got its start crafting title sequences for shows such as "Dexter" and "Six feet Under." In recent years, the company has moved into content creation for clients such as AT&T and Microsoft. The agency won a Cannes Grand Prix Award in 2011 for its digital-heavy interior design work at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.
 "We were founded on the firm belief that the greatest leverage in communications is the ability to connect emotionally," said Paul Matthaeus, founder and chairman of Digital Kitchen. "HDY’s philosophy of sei-katsu-sha – creating for the ‘living person’ – truly matches that."
"Michael’s plan to create a collective of carefully selected companies with global reach allows us to grow faster while preserving Digital Kitchen’s unique culture," he added.
In contrast to most holding companies, kyu emphasizes its intention to remain small. "Our aim is to create a collective of a limited number of industry leaders," Birkin told Campaign US.
"The kyu collective does not think of itself as a holding company" he said. "Traditional advertising is not the core of our endeavor, just one important aspect of what we will become."
Digital Kitchen currently has 120 employees with offices in Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles. Agency revenues are estimated at $20 million annually. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Hakuhudo is the seventh-largest holding company in the world by revenue, but second in Japan only to Dentsu Aegis. Both companies have ramped up their American acquisition in recent years.


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