Global firm acquires $21M digital agency


An awards wall at the Kalamazoo-based digital marketing agency Biggs|Gilmore. Photo via

A global digital marketing firm has acquired a $21-million digital agency based in southwest Michigan.

Kansas City, Mo.-based VML, which has offices in 23 locations across six continents, said Wednesday that it has acquired Kalamazoo-based Biggs|Gilmore, which also operates a Chicago office.

Biggs|Gilmore will become a full VML operation at the beginning of 2014.

Biggs|Gilmore’s unaudited revenue for the previous 12 months ending September 2013 was $21 million.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Parallel brands

The two agencies have worked for some of the same clients, including Kellogg and Kimberly-Clark, but have never directly worked together on any accounts.

“For example, with Kimberly Clark, we are the digital agency for two of their brands, and then VML is the digital agency for two of their other brands and the same thing with Kellogg. We work on brands. They work on brands,” explained Jane Tamraz, CEO of Biggs|Gilmore.

Independent to global

Tamraz pointed out that the acquisition will allow Biggs|Gilmore growth it couldn’t have attained otherwise.

“We are a 150-person agency with great clients and a lot of expertise, but we don’t have the depth and the breadth of resources that VML does,” Tamraz said. “They are 1,800 people around the globe with access to talent and resources that we could never have as an independent on our own, so that was very appealing.”

Tamraz also noted that the companies share similar cultures and a way of working, which was important in the decision to go forward with the acquisition.

“They are a fantastic agency with a wonderful reputation,” Tamraz added.

Tamraz and Mike Gerfen, Biggs|Gilmore president, will both assume roles on the executive leadership team as executive directors of VML in Chicago and Kalamazoo, respectively.

As for whether all of its 150 employees will retain their positions, Tamraz said, “We are growing significantly this year, as is VML, and we expect nothing but growth.”

Global expansion

This will be VML’s fourth transaction this year and first acquisition in North America, since acquiring Studiocom in 2005.

In October, VML acquired IM2.0, a digital advertising and media agency in China. In June, VML announced that it acquired a majority stake in NATIVE, a digital marketing agency in South Africa. In May, VML announced it acquired a minority stake in Heureka Group, a Poland digital agency.

The agency also entered the Japanese market with the launch of VML Tokyo in March.

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