Bite rebrands after merger with UK-based digital firm

SAN FRANCISCO: Bite Communications will merge with UK-based digital marketing firm Bourne and rebrand as "Bite."

SAN FRANCISCO: Bite Communications will merge with UK-based digital marketing firm Bourne and rebrand as “Bite.”

Through the merger, Bite will gain 50 Bourne employees including CEO Dan Kersh, who will join Bite's global board as head of the internal marketing delivery team. Kersh will report to recently-appointed Bite CEO Andy Cunningham. The rebranded firm will have 15 global offices and 300 employees.

“The traditional world of PR has largely been an analog world, humans talking to humans, but there are many more ways we can do a deeper job of storytelling and creating awareness of our clients. That's the reason why we did it,” Cunningham said about dropping “Communications” from the company's name. “It's very exciting to be able to offer our clients a lot more services now that will help increase their digital footprint and enable them to tell their stories.”

Bite has been working with Bourne since April, when the firms began discussions about a merger.

Bite will integrate Bourne's digital marketing services, including insight and strategy, website building, social media engagement, search marketing, and technology development, with its PR and content creation offerings. Bourne, which has offices in London and Glasgow, Scotland, counts Dell, MetLife, computer software company Arcadia, and data center provider Equinix among its clients.  

Bite said earlier this month that Cunningham, its North American president, will succeed Clive Armitage as CEO at the beginning of next year. Armitage is leaving the agency to start a digital marketing firm under Next Fifteen.

The agency is also involved in a criminal investigation after parent Next Fifteen uncovered a “complex fraud” in Bite's San Francisco office involving “a long-standing member of the finance team in a trusted position.” The holding company wrote off $2.8 million in cash stolen from the business, and will write off $200,000 in its current fiscal period, it said in an earnings report for its 2012 fiscal year. Investigations by the San Francisco Police Department and FBI are ongoing.

“I feel like we had a relative of Bernie Madoff working for us without us knowing,” Next Fifteen CEO Tim Dyson told PRWeek earlier this month. “We expect the case will take many months to work its way through the legal systems due in part to its complexity.”

Dyson added that Armitage's departure is not connected to the fraud case.

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