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PR firm Hill+Knowlton acquires digital outfit Rice5

WPP’s public relations firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) has acquired digital agency Rice5.

No acquisition price was revealed, but Rice5’s unaudited revenues for the year to 31 December 2013 were HK$16.6 million, with gross assets at the same date of HK$6 million.

The news comes just days after another independent agency Metta Communications announced it had been acquired by China-based holding group BlueFocus.

Andrew Lee, partner director at Rice 5, told Marketing the firm was approached by a handful of global companies as well as 4As agencies, but the merger with H+K was the best match.

“The relationship between digital, social and PR has become closer, especially to O2O model,” he said.

The partnership expands H+K Digital’s existing capabilities and services, including its “Layered Narrative” digital storytelling platform, “Flight School” online crisis simulator and upcoming StoryPlanner tool for planning and distributing brand content across paid, earned, owned and shared channels.

The partnership also provides additional staff needed to grow existing client relationships and win new ones.

The new deal see H+K immediately provides Rice5 with a diverse client mix and global reach. Rice5 will now be known as Rice5, a Hill+Knowlton Strategies company.

“Our continued investment in digital means it is now tightly woven into the fabric of our strategic offering as a global communications consultancy,” Vivian Lines, global vice chairman and chairman Asia Pacific, said in a release.

He described Rice5 as a “valuable addition” to existing digital platform.

“The founding partners are specialists at building brands and engaging audiences through imaginative and thought provoking content which will bring a unique energy to our expertise in analytics and insights.”

He added it’s critical to diversify the agency’s services to clients in this digital era, and bringing Rice5 into the H+K fold is the “latest step in that direction.”

Kevin Tsang, creative partner and one of the founders of Rice5, commented: “Creativity has always been our greatest asset, and over the last 11 years Rice5 has harnessed this to create brand awareness and consumer affinity for our clients in an arena where the pace of change is breathtaking.”

“We are delighted to be joining H+K which will give our team the opportunity to operate on a global scale and work alongside some of the best talent in the market to complement H+K’s own unique approach to content creation and digital storytelling.”

Founded in 2003, Rice5 is an award winning full service digital creative agency with offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Some of Rice5’s most outstanding work includes brand education and tribe building for the adidas Group, website and mobile app development for Anna Sui, and a comprehensive digital campaign encompassing web and mobile for Friesland Campina.

Rice5’s client portfolio includes Givenchy, L’Oreal Group, LEE Jeans, Maxim’s Group, Rayban and The Hong Kong Tourism Board.

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