UK-based Ascential, parent company of the Cannes Festival of Creativity is acquiring advertising industry consultant MediaLink to help strengthen its footprint in the U.S.
Founded in 2003 by Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan, the privately-held MediaLink employs 120+ employees in the U.S. and offers advisory business services across the media, marketing, advertising, entertainment and technology industries.
Kassan will continue to serve as Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, working closely with Ascential CEO Duncan Painter to integrate and accelerate the business, leveraging Ascential’s assets and infrastructure over the coming months. “I just signed a four-year contract. I joked to Painter that I don’t expect to ever carry another business card that will say anything other than MediaLink,” said Kassan.
MediaLink’s Wenda Harris Millard will continue to serve as vice chairwoman, primarily overseeing the agency’s talent practice that includes executive coaching. “No one is going anywhere. We don’t expect any senior departures,” says Kassan.
MediaLink will tap into Ascential’s digital and information expertise, as well as utilize Ascential’s deeper resources to expand its footprint beyond its four U.S. locations. To that end, Kassan is giving a speech in Hong Kong at the end of March and expects to open an office there at that time. MediaLink will also debut a London branch “extraordinarily quickly,” says Kassan.
MediaLink has worked with Cannes Lions’ customers since 2011. In fact, it was a Cannes party in 2015 that helped spark this acquisition. During the Joanna Coles-hosted event, guests assumed Kassan had already met Painter. “We were finally introduced after someone said to me that they thought I owned Cannes Lions [and not Painter]. We never had met before. But we found common ground quickly.”
MediaLink clients have applauded this deal, said Kassan, noting that one of his company’s first clients, Unilever’s Keith Weed, was “effusive” with his praise. “Judging by the calls and emails, people seem pretty pleased with the announcement.”