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Smart sells to McCann

Ben Lilley - SMART mumbrella

Smart CEO Ben Lilley

The latest independent Australian agency to sell is Smart, Mumbrella can reveal.

The sale of Smart, which comes just one month after Mumbrella revealed the still denied acquisition of 303 by Lowe, is to be officially announced next week.

(Updated: Interpublic’s McCann has been revealed as Smart’s buyer.)

WPP and The Clemenger Group were among those speculated to be competing to buy Smart.

The agency of 80 people with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, The Gold Coast and Auckland launched in 2000 and has clients including Coca-Cola, Tiger Airways, Specsavers and the NSW, Victorian, Queensland and federal governments.

Smart is owned by CEO Ben Lilley, executive creative director John Mescall and managing partner Ashley Farr.

McCann’s chairman and CEO Chris Mort and Lilley declined to comment.

The agency has earned plaudits as a solid player with a strong management team that has grown steadily through a series of acquisitions, most recently The Foundry in June last year.

Among the agency’s most prominent work this year has been the federal government’s pro-carbon tax campaign.

Its work for Specsavers has also won recognition, with news of an ad carrying the line ‘Shouldv’e gone to Specsavers’ being exported to Ireland emerging today.

The sale leaves The Monkeys as the only independent creative agency of significant size left in Australia. The agency rebuffed the advances of Saatchi & Saatchi in March.

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