April 17, 2009

Non-traditional communication companies attract investors


(photo by .mands., creative commons licence)

The Flemish investment company Gimv recently announced investments in three different Belgian marketing & communication companies. It seems the investment company fell in love with non-traditional communications.

Bananas, a marketing-sales company received growth financing. Bananas is 'among the leading European communication agencies, thanks to its strong combination of non-traditional communication and activation of A-brands', says Gimv. At the same time Gimv provided growth capital to Amphion, an up-and-coming non-traditional communications agency based in Antwerp.

One week later Gimv acquired an option to a part of the shares of Demonstrate, a Brussels-based company which focuses on experience marketing. This option can only be exercised in the second half of 2010 at the earliest, but Gimv will be actively involved in the workings of Demonstrate as of today, explains investor relations manager Frank De Leenheer.

Especially this last move may come as a surprise. Demonstrate specializes in unusual campaigns, gripping storytelling as they call it, for a-brands such as Coca-Cola (remember the Coke happiness nurses?), Burn (Russian models swarm Belgian nightlife), Stella Artois, Jupiler Blue and J&B Nightology. Gimv, on the other hand, is known for investing mainly in technology, cleantech and life sciences such as biotech.

Is the marketing communication (marcom) sector a new area of expertise for Gimv? 'It's certainly a sector in which we are much interested', says De Leenheer, 'given the fact that below the line advertising has proven fairly resistent to the recession'.

The three companies have quite a few things in common. First of all, there's the non-traditional way of approaching the consumer. Secondly, they're all local companies in need for growth support and finally, each one of them owns a large portfolio of A-brands.

Remains the question what Gimv is aiming at with the investments who seem quite complementary. However Tom Simonts, an analyst at KBC Securities, doubts Gimv is 'thinking about playing the buy-and-build game'.

We think Gimv just sees the opportunities of new media. It is still early stage, especially in Belgium, where marketing people (companies and agencies) are rather conservative. Eventually also in this part of the world non-traditional campaigns, based on cross-media storytelling and elements from the gaming industry, will take off because after all this is the way to go to really engage the audiences.

Stijn Demeester


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Best wishes,


Is this the same programme that is in today's schedule listed as "Six degrees of Separation" ?


yes, but a shorter version.


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