Indie agency tie-up: Serviceplan Group takes a 30% stake in Pereira O’Dell

The partnership expands the international footprint of both agencies to build a formidable global competitor to the large holding companies.

Munich-based independent agency Serviceplan Group said Tuesday it has acquired a 30% stake in U.S. independent agency Pereira O’Dell. 

The partnership will allow both agencies to grow their footprints internationally while expanding their services and client bases. 

The 50-year-old Serviceplan Group has a presence in 17 countries and 35 markets, largely in Europe and Asia, with one U.S. office in New York. The agency has a breadth of services across creative, media, digital and consulting. Pereira O’Dell, launched in 2008 by cofounders PJ Pereira and Andrew O’Dell, is a full-service agency known for its award-winning creative chops with offices in New York and San Francisco.

The two agencies, which are fiercely committed to staying independent, began talking about a partnership a year ago. Serviceplan was looking to grow its presence in the U.S., while Pereira O’Dell, which already does work for global clients, wanted an international footprint. 

“It's not only a personal fit, but makes absolute sense from our side to take an important step into the U.S.,” said Alex Schill, global chief creative director at Serviceplan Group. 

For Pereira O’Dell, the partnership offers an opportunity to grow internationally while staying independent, said O’Dell, cofounder and CEO of the agency. 

“We have always had global ambitions, but needed a partner to do that,” he explained. “To be a privately held and partner-owned company, there's a sense of empowerment and freedom to do the things you need to do, not just what the market tells you.”

In addition to its international footprint, Pereira O’Dell will also be able to tap into Serviceplan’s scale to grow into new services such as user experience design and performance marketing, “areas we haven't gone into but Serviceplan has dominated in Europe,” O’Dell said.  

The two agencies will also explore opportunities to work together on shared clients, including AB InBev and Mini Cooper.

The partnership is not a merger but an opportunity for two independent agencies to come together and help each other grow. Pereira O’Dell will retain its brand and continue to operate autonomously. Serviceplan operates all of its local offices independently to maintain flexibility, said Florian Haller, CEO and owner of the group. 

“The beauty of independence is that you can take a longer term view,” he said. “In a world that's changing so dramatically, to be agile, able to maneuver quickly and focus on clients' needs is a wonderful thing.”

With a larger footprint in the U.S. thanks to the partnership, Serviceplan hopes to scale its independent model into a formidable competitor to the large holding companies in global pitches. 

“Our vision is to be able to deliver anything needed for a global client, beyond the creative idea to data, technology and production,” Serviceplan’s Schill explained.

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