One of the world’s largest advertising agency networks has taken an independent Canadian shop into its fold.
Tokyo-based Dentsu Inc., through its international operations Dentsu Network, has acquired Montreal-based advertising agency Bos. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Japanese holding company will merge Bos with its existing Toronto-based agency, Dentsu Canada. The merged shops will rebrand as DentsuBos.
The acquisition gives Dentsu an agency with an understanding of the Quebec market and more French-language expertise, which it did not have before. It follows an internal review a few years ago in which the company analyzed what it would need to expand its offerings in Canada. A francophone presence was top of the list, said Bob Shropshire, Dentsu Canada’s chief executive officer, who will now become chairman of DentsuBos.
“It’s a fully national agency,” he said.
The Canadian advertising industry has moved much more into the multinational structure, with many independent agencies founded here joining larger holding companies over the years, such as Taxi, which was acquired by Dublin-based WPP in 2010. Bos itself had been approached repeatedly in the past to do the same but did not find a perfect fit. Dentsu Inc. is a major presence among the global giants, recording roughly $25.2-billion in billings last year across its network.
But many more clients’ priorities are shifting to look at the world from a global perspective, and establishing a presence in markets such as Asia and South America. For an independent agency like Bos, it was difficult to offer its services to clients looking for reach outside of the country, said Claude Carrier, who was executive vice-president of Bos and now becomes president of DentsuBos in Toronto. Its client Vincor sells wine outside Canada, he said, and with its new network DentsuBos could more effectively help that client with its global marketing strategy.
“Canadian agencies have been criticized for not looking hard enough at China, for example,” Mr. Carrier said. “The economy is shifting. We have to find new markets.”
The acquisition also gives Bos scale it did not have before, and access to other agencies within the network – such as U.S. agency 360i, which has more expertise in digital.
“Dentsu invests tens of millions of dollars every year in pure [research and development]” Mr. Carrier said. “How many agencies do that?”
Dentsu’s board of directors in Japan approved the deal last week, and it closed officially on Thursday night. DentsuBos will now become part of Dentsu Network, a new unit the Tokyo-based company created in April to operate all of its agencies outside of Japan. It comprises a total of 82 operations in 29 countries. Dentsu also has a separate agency in Canada, called Antibody, which handles pharmaceutical clients specifically.
Dentsu Canada has operated in Toronto since 1994. Its biggest clients include Toyota’s Lexus and Scion brands, Sleeman Brewery, and Sapporo. Bos brings a client portfolio including Fido, the brand it helped to create 16 years ago, as well as National Bank and Ultima Foods. Both agencies already work with Canon.
Executive vice-president Roger Gariepy will continue his role as creative director. The combined agency will include roughly 120 employees in Toronto and 110 in Montreal.