Advertising agency DDB Canada is fortifying its presence in the Quebec market -- with a little local help.
The new DDB Canada Montreal office will include seven employees from another agency: on Wednesday, it announced a partnership with Montreal marketing and communications agency Bleublancrouge to serve its clients in that province.
DDB, owned by New York-based advertising agency holding company Omnicom Group, already has offices in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. It will open its Montreal office with clients including Manulife Financial, autoTRADER.ca, and digital services for McDonald's Canada.
Meanwhile, Bleublancrouge will continue to serve its own clients independently, "but will now also benefit from added expertise from DDB resources," according to the announcement.
DDB has partnered with local agencies before to create strategies for its clients in Quebec, a market that presents a challenge for advertisers looking to speak to consumers with different media habits and sensibilities than elsewhere in Canada. After working with other Quebec agencies, it selected BBR as a partner to extend its agency brand into the province.
It has worked with BBR for roughly 10 years, for clients such as Health Canada, Esso, and the Canadian Tourism Commission. For a high-profile digital campaign DDB is running for McDonalds, which answers uncomfortable questions about the chain's fast food, BBR helped with the online elements intended for Quebec audiences.
The two agencies began discussing the partnership in early 2011.
"We've agreed to say we're going to create an agency within an agency. We're going to keep the two brands very much alive, and allow all possible options," DDB Canada president David Leonard said in an interview.
"For a Quebec client who's regional, for sure, BBR is the best for them. If they want to expand ... they've got all that access."
The independent Montreal agency BBR will now be in the position of serving both its own clients and running a separate office under the DDB banner.
BBR has been courted by larger global advertising networks in the past, CEO Sébastien Fauré said in an interview. This partnership had appeal because it can be difficult for an independent agency to win big clients who are increasingly demanding a global footprint for their marketing strategies.
"It gives us the tier one global advertisers. We cannot get that if we're independent. Yes, there's some exceptions ... but not at a level where you can do great creative work," he said.
In exchange, Bleublancrouge can confer on DDB the kind of credibility in the Quebec market that can be difficult for an agency to win on its own.
That desire to reach the Quebec market fuelled one recent acquisition: just last month, one of the world's largest advertising agency networks, Tokyo-based Dentsu Inc., bought independent Montreal agency Bos and rebranded Dentsu Canada as DentsuBos.
That allowed Dentsu to extend its reach in Canada beyond its existing office in Toronto, acquiring French-language capabilities and an expertise in marketing to Quebec.
That hard-won local credibility is why DDB decided not to take the route of opening its office on its own and simply poaching talent from regional competitors.
"There's a risk," Mr. Leonard said. "You can go hang a shingle, and raid some agencies and hire some people. But this is a relationship of trust."