Taxi one of Canada's premier creative communication companies (since they are way beyond just an advertising agency... it may have redesigned the model overall) has opened its first office in Europe.
Taxi acquired the majority stake in Amsterdam digital agency Ottonico.
The agency, which officially rebranded as Taxi Europe on May 13, serves clients such as Foot Locker, Heineken (a Taxi client in Canada), ING, KPN Royal Dutch Telecom and telecommunications brands Hi and Telefort.
Taxi’s co-founder and chair Paul Lavoie will add the title of chief creative officer, Europe to his business card. Both he and Taxi co-founder Jane Hope will travel between Amsterdam and Taxi New York as the company integration continues over the coming months.
Ottonico’s co-founders Eric Verhage and Maarten van Huijstee, both former Heineken employees, assume the roles of general manager and executive creative director, respectively.
“Our creative visions are a natural fit,” said van Huijstee, in a statement. “We share the belief that there is no new and no old media. Every channel can deliver results when the choice is rooted in consumer insight.”
I figure this may be perfect for some Taxi staffers as Lavoie expects specific "talent and capabilities" will be moving to Amsterdam. Ottonico is primarily a digital shop offering a full range of design capabilities and has established itself as less traditional "advertising" than the other offices in Taxi’s network. It’s a safe bet those capabilities will be brought in from North America.
With a current staff of 22, Lavoie estimated Taxi Europe’s staff to reach 35 by the time Ottonico is fully integrated into the network.
“We want to be a European brand, a brand that’s popular in the Netherlands,” said Lavoie from his new European base of operations. “People from our shop can walk out of here and see our campaigns and feel that we’re part of this community. But at the same time, we want to use this as a hub for Europe.”
Taxi has been exploring the possibility of a European expansion for a few years, and with the growth of Canadian presence in Europe, Sid Lee Amsterdam recently, the timing was just right. Taxi considered starting an office from scratch, but opted instead for faster growth through acquisition giving the agency a client base at launch.
Lavoie met with several Amsterdam’s digital agencies “because that’s where Taxi’s shipping more and more of its work for clients.”
“I’ve got some guys who are really tough... If [Verhage and van Huijstee] could get through that filter, then we’ve got something. Everyone was coming back to me saying they were cool, smart and generous. They’re really Taxi people.”
FULL TAXI PRESS RELEASE SENT BY LISA SANDERS TAXI NYC
New York, NY May 19, 2009 – TAXI has purchased a majority of Dutch digital agency Ottonico, TAXI chairman Paul Lavoie announced today.
The acquisition represents a crucial step in TAXI’s growth by establishing a presence in Europe. TAXI, begun in 1992, now operates five offices in Canada, as well as New York and Amsterdam.
Ottonico was founded in 2008 by Eric Verhage and Maarten van Huijstee. The 22-person agency offers strategic and creative solutions across all forms of media, including digital, gaming and mobile. Its clients include Heineken, KPN Royal Dutch Telecom, TNT Post, Foot Locker, ING and telecommunications brands Hi and Telfort.
The deal has been several months in the making. TAXI executives considered several European cities and partnerships before deciding upon Amsterdam and Ottonico. “This was a decision to invest in Europe to deliver local and global reach to both European and North American clients,” said Lavoie. “We chose Amsterdam because it is a creative and multi-cultural hub, and we chose Ottonico because they embody the future of integrated communications.”
Ottonico’s Verhage and van Huijstee take the titles of General Manager and Executive Creative Director, respectively “Our creative visions are a natural fit” said van Huijstee. “We share the belief that there is no “new” and no “old” media; every channel can deliver results when the choice is rooted in consumer insight.”
Verhage and van Huijstee will work closely with TAXI co-founders Paul Lavoie and Jane Hope in the coming months on integrating Ottonico into the TAXI network. “Our first responsibility is to existing clients, the integration of diverse capabilities across our network is aimed at delivering on their needs now and into the future,” concluded TAXI CEO Rob Guenette.
Prior to opening Ottonico, Verhage and van Huijstee worked at Heineken and other global corporations. The pair also developed a business dedicated to video streaming and brand activation.