Jul 11, 2011 at 03:06 PM
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Global Ad Agency Takes Stake In JMI

Global ad holding company, WPP, has made a strategic investment in motorsport marketing agency, Just Marketing International. Spire Capital, which took a majority stake in JMI in 2008, remains the principal shareholder, with Zak Brown the second largest shareholder.

JMI was founded by CEO Zak Brown, a former professional driver who thought there was untapped commercial potential in motorsports partnerships. The company, which started in 1995, now employs more than 120 people in its headquarters in Indianapolis and its offices in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Charlotte, NC and Daytona Beach.

Strategically, it will be interesting to see if the partnership helps JMI tap into WPP's client base, which includes global brands such as Bayer, Colgate, Danone, Dell, Ford, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Mazda, Procter & Gamble, Shell and Vodafone.

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has close ties to motorsports and Formula One. He currently own shares in Fomula One's holding companys, CVC Capital Partners, and serves as a non-executive director.

JMI’s client list includes Boehringer Ingelheim, Castrol, Crown Royal, DIRECTV, Farmers Insurance, FXDD, Johnnie Walker, LG Electronics, UBS, SUBWAY Restaurants, UPS and Verizon Wireless. The agency's clients participate in all major motorsports series including NASCAR, Formula 1, IndyCar, FIA GT1 World Championship and the American Le Mans Series.

This isn't the first sports investment for WPP. The London-based conglomerate has made several sports and sponsorship investments in the past few years, including acquiring sponsorship consulting agency, IEG.