Gravity Global marketing agency sets up U.S. HQ in Houston with acquisition

A unit of Houston-based marketing agency 9thWonder has joined with London-based Gravity Global as part of the business-to-business marketing agency’s expansion in the U.S.

Gravity Global, whose clients including the Boston industrial conglomerate General Electric and the Dutch multinational AkzoNobel, said Wednesday it acquired both 9thWonder B2B, the Houston agency’s business-to-business unit, and Minneapolis-based creative agency Morsekode. Terms were not disclosed.

Gravity Global, which operates in several countries, has partnered with 9thWonder and Morsecode on projects for years. As part of the transaction, Jose Lozano, who founded 9thWonder by acquiring and integrating six agencies in 2018, becomes the U.S. CEO of Gravity Global, based in Houston. Gravity Global’s top clients include the Texas refiners Phillips 66 and Motiva, the Minnesota conglomerate 3M and the financial services firm Ameriprise Financial.

Thirty employees from the business-to-business side of 9thWonder will move to Gravity Global. About 250 employees will remain at 9thWonder on the agency’s consumer side, which promotes clients such as automakers Honda and Ford. Lozano serves as chairman at 9thWonder.

9thWonder split its B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) divisions in 2020, positioning the company to grow by joining with Gravity Global, Lozano said. Prior to forming 9thWonder, Lozano and his partners had previously acquired Fogarty & Klein Inc., a longstanding marketing agency in Houston.

“As we made acquisitions on the B2C side of our business, it left the B2B part of our business as not as great of focus,” Lozano said. “We didn’t want to lose that legacy, knowledge and expertise, with clients like Phillips 66 and Motiva we’ve had for a long time.”

Backed by Elysian Capital, a private equity firm based in London, Gravity Global has completed six acquisitions in the last two years and has another two deals in the works in the U.S. The agency expects to double in size this year from current levels of more than 250 people and $40 million in fees.

“We bring clients the scale, expertise, and geography of the largest B2B agencies with the entrepreneurial mindset and agility of an independent agency,” Lozano said.

Sara Hoerner and Lisa Hillmer-Poole, who led the B2B specialty at 9thWonder, are taking leaderships positions with Gravity U.S., Lozano said.

“Since 2009 we’ve built Gravity through partnerships with like-minded agencies. Now we need our own offices with dedicated teams who follow our proprietary growth framework Fame-Admiration-Belief,” Mark Lethbridge, CEO of Gravity Global, said in a statement. “Our strategy is to assimilate agencies where we know our chemistry is right from working together on key accounts. We’ve known and worked with 9thWonder and Morsekode for several years.”

The acquisitions give Gravity Global offices in five major U.S. cities and deeper ties in the technology, energy, transportation, aerospace, financial services, industrial and healthcare industries. The firm has 14 offices worldwide.

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