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Publicis Acquires Healthcare Advertising Agency Watermelon

Publicis Groupe is acquiring a majority stake in Watermelon Healthcare Communications Pvt Ltd, a leading healthcare advertising agency in Mumbai, for an undisclosed amount. Post the transaction, this entity will become part of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG) and will be renamed Publicis Life Brands Watermelon. The transaction is subject to customary local closing conditions.

Watermelon is a full-service advertising agency that has built its business around traditional and new media since its inception in 2003. It currently employs 40 people and offers strategic planning, digital and branding, creative, medical education, research, public relations, and healthcare professional and consumer communications services.

Watermelon's clients includes many of the top pharma and biotech companies such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Specialties, MSD Pharmaceuticals, and Novartis, to name a few.

Watermelon's founders, Abhijit Shitut and Kiran Pai, will be named joint Managing Directors at Publicis Life Brands Watermelon. Debasish Mukherjee, co-founder of the digital arm Watermelon Digital Solutions, now will spearhead the digital offerings of PLB Watermelon.

Publicis has been active on the acquisition front. In October last year, it acquired a majority stake in public relations firm 20:20 MEDIA, and its social media consulting arm, 2020Social. In 2008, Publicis also bought Google's search engine marketing business in a global deal. In other deals in India, media conglomerate Times Group picked up a stake in Percept Limited, an entertainment, media and communications company, in a forward integration move for the company.

Recently, Japanese advertising major Dentsu Inc. took over its India joint ventures--Dentsu Communications Pvt. Ltd., Dentsu Marcom Pvt. Ltd and Dentsu Creative Impact Pvt Ltd--by buying the 26% stake held by partner Sandeep Goyal through an entity called Mogae Consultants Pvt Ltd

According to the December 2010 edition of Advertising Expenditure Forecasts published by ZenithOptimedia, India's advertising market, which grew slightly in 2009 to $4.4 billion, is expected to grow 13% in 2010 and 13–15% in 2011–2013, year on year. The total projected market size of $7,548 million in 2013, an increase of 69% when compared to the 2009 figure.

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