Interpublic Buys Brazilian Digital Shop Cubocc

Interpublic Group, one of the big three global ad holding companies, has acquired Brazilian digital marketer Cubocc. Terms weren’t disclosed. Cubocc, based in Sao Paulo, will keep its brand and continue to be run as a standalone business. Unlike its rivals, WPP Group and Publicis Groupe, Interpublic hasn’t been too aggressive in making digital acquisitions. But with most major ad companies building up its holdings in the BRIC countries, Interpublic has recognized the need to step up in both the emerging markets and digital areas.

IPG CEO Michael Roth said as much during the company’s Q4 earnings call late last month. He particularly cited Latin America, China and India as locations that IPG would look to acquire digital agencies. Historically, IPG has spent $150 million or less on acquisitions and he indicated that he would use that figure as a guidepost for what the company would be spending on future purchases.

IPG probably didn’t spend that much on Cubocc. The Brazilian shop has about 150 staffers. IPG considers it a natural fit, since the six-year-old Cubocc handles major marketers like Unilever, which splits its business across IPG, WPP and Omnicom. While Cubocc will continue to service and compete for its own business, IPG will look for ways the two can partner. The firm will continue to be led by its founding partner, Roberto Martini.

IPG hasn’t done a lot of digital M&A activity over the past few years. In July ’08, it did acquire a stake in digital design and marketing firm Huge, which is based in Brooklyn, NY. More recently, IPG has been trying to put a formal team in place to chart digital ad growth and investments.

Digital ad vet Matt Freeman was hired earlier this year to oversee IPG’s interactive media unit, Mediabrands Ventures, which the ad holding company established to spur innovative ideas and collaboration among its various agencies. One of the responsibilities Freeman is charged with is finding independent digital companies that might be a good fit for IPG. Release