We aim to scale the business on an international level

Digital technology and marketing agency Positive has joined the Candid Platform. Candid CEO Rudiger Wanck and Positive's Julian Reiter explain a strategic fit that will pave the way for enhanced services and international expansion.

"We have long been campaigning about the power of collective thinking," says Julian Reiter, CEO of digital marketing agency Positive. "In a marketing world that has become enormously complicated, Marketing Directors need to have more than one source of truth and advice to help them navigate the multidisciplinary channels they need to master. No longer can they rely on individual specialist agencies supporting them in silos, they need to know they have integrated teams discussing integrated solutions, with smart and experienced people working together in the same room."

As a digital agency, Positive covers a lot of bases. In addition to consultancy work, the company designs and builds websites and digital ecosystems, undertakes systems integration projects, and has considerable expertise in performance marketing. All of this requires a diverse range of skillsets across multiple disciplines, and as Reiter observes, a strength of Positive is that its people work collectively towards the creation of joined-up digital marketing solutions and strategies. "We can look at the bigger picture and how all the touchpoints of a customer's digital journey can affect a difference between a negative or a positive outcome," he says.

Reiter's commitment to harnessing the power of cross-discipline collective thinking goes some way to explaining one of the key factors driving Candid Platform's acquisition of Positive. The focus on the collective as a means to deliver the broad range of services that brands need in an ever-more-complex marketing world is writ large Candid's philosophy - of building a platform on which autonomous marketing and advertising agencies can build their own businesses while also co-operating with others to deliver a holistic service, whatever the requirements of clients.

As announced earlier this month, Candid Platform acquired Positive, as part of an ongoing expansion from the Netherlands into the UK market. Under the terms of the deal, Positive's founder, Tim Miller will take an ambassadorial role while CEO Reiter will continue to lead the business. As CEO Rudiger Wanck explains, "the acquisition of Positive enhances Candid Platform's own collective capability. Since last year, our focus has been on growing our platform in the UK," he says. "And we were very keen to bring a key digital agency on board." Positive was particularly attractive because its acquisition brings on stream many capabilities that were hitherto missing from Candid's portfolio - in particular, the solutions architecture, UX, and technical ability to build websites and digital ecosystems. Equally important, as part of the platform, Positive will itself have access to a much bigger market of clients and geographies.

 An International Reach

"Now, we have Positive on board, we aim to scale the business on an international level," says Wanck. It's a prospect that Reiter relishes. As he recalls, following preliminary discussions, the Candid team travelled to London to present the proposition formally."We liked the people, we liked the proposition and we could see that Candid was offering a chance for us to do our thing on a much bigger scale. We share a philosophy about providing clients with holistic solutions and the platform offers Positive the chance to offer clients even wider services outside of the digital channels. You can see why we found it attractive," he says.

Digital First

Positive is joining Candid at a watershed moment in terms of the relationship between businesses and their customers. One very noticeable impact of the Covid pandemic was an acceleration of an existing trend toward digital transformation. In both the consumer and B2B marketplaces, companies were prevented by lockdowns and restrictions from interacting directly with customers. In a world where stores were closed and business meetings put on hold, companies turned to digital channels to engage and transact with customers.b"Covid really accelerated the adoption of digital engagement in traditional sales and marketing businesses," says Reiter. "Everyone had to use digital as the first point of contact. And during the pandemic, the companies that did well were those who were either largely digital already or able to adapt very quickly." Positive is well-positioned to benefit from this trend. Established in 1994, it has focused on digital marketing since 2001. The technical expertise developed since then is enabling it to provide a comprehensive range of services in a marketing ecosystem that is increasingly technology-driven.

As Reiter sees it, the growing role of technology is creating real opportunities. Collectively speaking, marketers are now among the biggest purchasers of IT but they may not have the in-house expertise to fully capitalize on their investment. Meanwhile, CTOs are playing an increasing role in facilitating marketing strategies but often there is a disconnect between their skillsets and experience and the needs of the marketers they serve. "What you often find is that marketing teams get very frustrated with IT, and indeed vice versa," says Reiter. "Our goal is to help these teams work together to deliver the best solutions for their businesses"

From Consultancy to Delivery

The opportunity, therefore, is to provide an expert overview of how clients can best utilise and optimise either their existing digital assets or what they can do to move their businesses forward by purchasing new capabilities. Positive does not focus on any one sector - indeed with a client list that includes DHL, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, Investec, Northern Trains, and ESB Energy, it is providing services to clients in both the consumer and business marketplaces. "We have clients in financial services, travel, hospitality, consumer electronics and business to business," says Reiter.

There is, however, a common thread. Reiter says the client base is often characterised by companies that have relatively small in-house marketing teams that need help to leverage the potential of digital technologies while at the same time taking an integrated approach to improving customer experience, transacting online, and deploying content to drive sales and engagement. "We can start with consultancy and move on to delivery," says Reiter.

This aligns perfectly with Candid Platform's own expansion ambitions. "Positive now gives us the scope to provide clients with the technical aspect of delivery that we have lacked up until now," says Wanck. And in addition to giving us a presence in the UK, it also enhances our capability in this respect in the Netherlands as well. We think that Positive is very well positioned to help us to move into this increasingly important technology space."

The other side of that coin is that Candid's structure -autonomous agencies offering non-competitive services and working cooperatively - will enable Positive to expand its offer to existing and potential clients. "Candid has phenomenal creative agencies and we are looking forward to introducing them to our clients," says Reiter. Positive's arrival on the Candid Platform follows a previous acquisition of UK-based innovation and transformation agency, Brand Potential in 2021. Both deals signal a serious intention to establish a significant UK presence, not only as a means to tap into a large market but also as a springboard for further international expansion. "Our focus now is on the UK," says Wanck. "But this is just the start.''

The agency develops digital ecosystems, websites and other digital applications, whilst also supporting clients with Performance Marketing and Content development services. Experts in delivering multiplatform CMS solutions including the likes of Kentico (#2 partner in the UK), Adobe Experience Manager, Drupal, Umbraco and Silverstripe, by also providing their clients integrated PPC, SEO, Social and Content marketing solutions, Positive is well versed in creating seamless digital customer journeys from the first to the last click.

Positive's clients include Gordon Ramsay Restaurants (global hospitality), Sodexo (hospitality), DHL (logistics), Northern Trains (transport), Raymarine (consumer electronics), Browne Jacobson (legal), Angostura (FMCG – drinks), MCC Lords (sport), Wolseley (construction), and Care UK (residential care services).

The agency will, like all Candid agencies, operate within the platform as an autonomous agency under its own name. This is in line with Candid's T-shaped philosophy, which supports agency specialisms whilst providing clients with access to all relevant disciplines within consumer insight, brand strategy, communication, digital, design, and media.

'In an increasingly digital-first world, Positive has been building a diverse yet integrated team to provide clients with digital channels and technical solutions to increasingly complex marketing problems. We've seen how collaboration between our diverse teams has been the key to achieving award-winning results for our clients. By joining Candid, we can offer our clients access to an even wider set of digital services through the platform,' says CEO Julian Reiter. 'With Candid's support and working with our new, like-minded partner agencies, we believe we can accelerate our recent growth by offering clients a wider and more in-depth service. And we absolutely believe that we provide specific technical digital skills and services that will enrich the Candid platform for the benefit of our clients and the new network of colleagues.'

Rudiger Wanck, CEO of Candid explains: 'Being able to add Positive onto our platform is a fantastic step forward in Candid's continued growth and ambition. With Positive on board, we're further enhancing our digital and technology capabilities. Our agencies and clients based in the Netherlands will also directly benefit from Positive's knowledge and experience.'

Board Chairman Gérard Ghazarian adds: 'With our 'hero brand' approach and our vision to further strengthen digital capabilities that seamlessly connect different specialisms within Candid, Positive is a strong addition to our growing platform and embodies our international growth ambition in the UK.'

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