Citizen eyes Asia expansion with BlueFocus deal

Citizen Relations, whose owner is in the process of being acquired by China's BlueFocus, said it plans to expand its footprint in Asia if the deal closes.

Citizen Relations CEO Daryl McCullough
Citizen Relations CEO Daryl McCullough

NEW YORK: Citizen Relations plans to leverage the Asia network of potential new owner BlueFocus with the goal of expanding its footprint in the region, said Citizen CEO Daryl McCullough.

Beijing-based BlueFocus is acquiring a majority stake in Canadian comms company Vision7, which owns agencies including Citizen. The deal has not yet closed, but McCullough said it is expected to be finalized quickly.

"It’s exciting to have access to the scale that BlueFocus has in China, and their excellence in digital communications and technology will be a real asset for us in the Asia region as well as here in North America," McCullough said.

Citizen has targeted Asia and EMEA as its two priority growth opportunities, he added.

While Citizen already has a presence in Asia through partnerships, the firm "will continue to grow them now with this [BlueFocus] relationship, provided the deal closes," said McCullough.

In terms of longtime client Procter & Gamble, McCullough said it is "premature to comment" on whether Citizen will help its brands grow in Asian markets. The agency works with P&G brands in North America including Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Dawn, and Cascade.

However, Citizen hopes to expand its work with P&G and is eager to explore a number of strategies going forward, McCullough noted.

If the deal closes, Citizen’s operating structure will remain the same and the firm will not rebrand, he said.

"We are still Citizen Relations through and through – no plans to change that," he said.

McCullough added that he sees no downsides to being bought by BlueFocus because the firm will retain its virtual independence. BlueFocus decided to invest in Citizen because the holding company respects the brand, its work in the communications marketing space, and the fact that it is a nimble mid-sized player, he explained.

Last year BlueFocus bought social media specialist We Are Social for an initial consideration of $30 million.

"If the deal closes, we hope to move forward with some discussions and we look forward to meeting [We Are Social]," said McCullough.

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