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LEWIS PR makes a push into paid media advertising

Global communications agency LEWIS PR has acquired Piston, a full service digital agency based in San Diego. Following the acquisition, Piston gets access to LEWIS’ global network of 28 offices. The specific terms of the deal are undisclosed.

Piston will operate under LEWIS Pulse, the agency’s digital marketing arm, alongside prior web design acquisition, Purestone in the UK.  Piston specialises in digital marketing including SEO, SEM and display advertising, media planning and buying, analytics and creative design services.

Piston was founded by Michael Chaney, CEO, and John Hartman, president, in 2008. Hartman will continue to run Piston as a division with Chaney taking a non-executive role. Hartman will report into SVP of LEWIS Pulse, Stephen Corsi. Piston currently has 50 people based in San Diego. Piston’s clients include AAA, AARP, BareMinerals, Cars.com, Intuit, Inspirato, Mophie, Shiseido, SkullCandy, Sunglass Hut, TVG and Yakult.  In 2014, Piston had revenues of US$8.4 million.

The deal strengthens LEWIS’ digital capabilities moving it firmly into paid media advertising and deepening its creative and analytics services.  LEWIS now has global revenues in excess of US$72 million, with combined US revenues of more than US$37 million.

“Our clients are looking for integrated communications campaigns. We’re seeing a huge uptick in demand for paid media programs – search engine marketing, online advertising, mobile programs,” said Stephen Corsi, SVP at LEWIS Pulse. “Piston combines the three things you need to get that right – strong creative, strategic media buying at scale with deep analytics. Piston works with tier one brands, and has a reputation which rivals the establishment.”

“We are thrilled to join the LEWIS PR family. Both LEWIS PR and Piston are heavily focused on raising awareness, driving lead generation and sales enablement for clients, so there’s a great fit,” said John Hartman, president of Piston.

Prior LEWIS PR acquisitions include Leads United, PageOne PR, DMG, Purestone and EBA. LEWIS PR was advised by McCracken Advisory Partners. The deal is the first in what is expected to be a series of acquisitions to be made by LEWIS PR in 2015/16.

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