WPP drives off with Taxi

'Taxi will remain Taxi,' says CEO Rob Guenette, who talked with strategy about what the deal means to the agency.

Rumours have been circulating all week and today the truth was revealed: Taxi has been purchased by global holding company WPP.

The Toronto-based agency – which has five offices in Canada and locations in New York and Amsterdam – will now be part of the Young & Rubicam Brands portfolio, led by chairman and CEO Peter Stringham, joining 30 other companies on the roster. But although the economic engine driving the agency is changing, Taxi’s executive team looks to be remaining stable, with co-founder and chairman Paul Lavoie and CEO Rob Guenette remaining in the organization’s lead roles, both having signed long-term contracts.

‘We’d been open to bringing on a partner for some time now,’ says Guenette. ‘We’ve had global ambitions and that manifested through going to New York and going to Amsterdam, but we realized we wanted to get on a faster track, and to that end we just needed a little more depth and breadth and some help. We were open to making something happen. WPP was the firm that approached us and had the best structure, the best idea and, quite frankly, we felt high chemistry with the group.’

The hope is that the acquisition will help Taxi gain more international clients and eventually expand in Europe and into Latin America and Asia, says Guenette.

But don’t expect a name change or any other structural changes to the agency. Guenette says that WPP was a good fit because it allowed Taxi to maintain its culture, creative standards, business standards and spirit. Taxi is known for breakthrough creative for clients like Viagra, Mini, Telus and WestJet.

‘We just thought the timing was right,’ says Guenette. ‘The business is getting a lot more complicated, a lot more demanding. We’d like to close whatever skill gaps we have, and we’d like some global clients, so this straps an awfully big engine to our back. And we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished. But we’re nowhere near the finish line, so we decided we need a bigger engine.’