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Vivian Zhu takes charge of Spark Foundry in China after merger with Blue 449

Vivian Zhu has added helming Publicis Media agency Spark Foundry in China to a mandate that already includes Zenith.  This follows the merger of Publicis Media agencies Spark Foundry and Blue 449.  

Zhu who was CEO of Blue 449 in China was given the additional mandate of running Zenith in December on the back of “a stellar track record” according to Publicis Groupe. She now adds Spark Foundry to her remit.

This was done “ensuring the needs of our clients are placed first”, according to a statement from Publicis Media China.

There are likely to be no further management changes in the region, according to Publicis Media.

The merger sees Blue 449 survive as an independent entity only in the UK, the US and France where it will focus on local clients even as Spark Foundry becomes a global network.

In other markets, the merger will see all Blue 449 talent and clients operate within the Spark Foundry name and brand. In Asia, Blue 449 was present in Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  

Following industry speculation on the merger, Mumbrella approached Publicis for comment last month. The business denied the “incorrect” rumours and said the two agencies were not planning on merging.

At the time, a spokesperson said to Mumbrella: “Spark Foundry and Blue 449 ANZ continue to operate as separate agency brands of strength.”

When asked about redundancies, John Preston, chairman of Publicis Media, told Mumbrella: “Due to the success of the businesses, redundancies are not part of the plan. This is a strategic move, not an efficiency play.

“The business is all set up for us to service all of our clients needs with the existing staff. Equally the business is going to grow over time and that is going to create some opportunity for everyone in the agency and the senior leadership team.

“We have not had to demonstrate to the business, savings and that is because this is a strategic play.”

The two agencies do have conflicting clients in Australia, with Spark Foundry holding the media account for Diageo and Blue 449 handling all the media planning and buying for Pernod Ricard.

“There have been minimal conflicts, and pleasingly minimal conflicts in the client mix,” Preston told Mumbrella.

“Where conflicts may exist, we have been able to communicate with those clients very early on in the process. We are working on a roadmap to mitigate any conflict.

“Particularly important is that the offices, physically are going to be separated in the Sydney market place, which will reduce any issue of conflict.”

Chris Boothe, global brand president of Spark Foundry, said: “I am thrilled to welcome the Blue 449 talent and clients to the Spark Foundry family.

“I’m confident these clients will benefit from continuing to work with the talent who know them and their business well, now backed by Spark Foundry’s unique HEAT proposition strongly resonating and delivering for clients around the world.”

Two years ago, Publicis Groupe media agency Mediavest was rebranded to Spark Foundry. The move came just three years after Mediavest was split from Starcom to operate as a separate agency.

Blue 449 was born out of Walker Media, the British media buying agency that Publicis Groupe acquired in 2014 and was positioned as ‘the open source media agency’ with a focus on innovation. It launched in Hong Kong in 2016, led by Nico Guiridlian.

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