Match’s shopper strategy

The Canadian shopper marketing firm is expanding its way to North American P2P ubiquity.

It was a busy 2012 for Match Marketing with five agency acquisitions in less than 10 months, and the addition of more than 1,000 staff in offices across eight cities (up from two a year ago) including New York, Boulder Colorado and Boston. But this is just the beginning for Match as it plans more acquisitions and mergers in 2013, including the option of new offices in new cities, says Brett Farren, president and CEO of the Toronto-based agency.

Match is aiming to be the first North American agency network capable of reaching consumers throughout the entire path to purchase – from digital and experiential, to design and in-store campaigns.

It all began in 2010 after months of conversations with clients who expressed concerns over managing multiple agency partners when creating a fully integrated shopper marketing campaign.

“Clients were facing increased pressures on their business and needed to be more efficient, not only with their personal time but also with their resources. They were really looking for an end-to-end solution,” Farren says. “We realized we needed to increase our service offerings in order to be more synergistic and efficient.”

After partnering with Beringer Capital, an investment and consultancy firm, to give an overview of the marketing landscape, and later capital investment to grow the business, Match set out to acquire its first agency – Action Marketing out of Boulder Colorado. The agency bolstered Match’s experiential team as well as boosted its social media and digital offering, says Farren.

He adds that Match execs were originally drawn to Action through its 2009 work with the Ford Fiesta launch (pictured, top right), which placed keys for the yet-to-be-released car in the hands of social content creators, such as bloggers, and turning the creative power over. The result was original Fiesta content created by bloggers, hosted on their personal sites and mirrored on Ford’s.

“It really drew our attention to the power experiential can deliver in a brand launch,” says Farren. “The piece we [brought] to the table is the street-level retail expertise where we could also service the dealers from a POS collateral development and deployment [level].”

Since then, the agency quickly moved to take on OSL, a promotional and digital group which operates merchandising team Ignite Activation as well as digital and social media shop Blender Design, and more recently acquiring Marketing Drive, a shopper marketing agency based out of Norwalk, Conneticut. Beyond tapping into new skill sets, the North American network allows Match to help clients cross the border with their marketing, says Farren, pointing to video rental company Red Box (which recently opened in Canada), as an acquired U.S. client the agency helped bring north.

The mass of new agencies melded new clients into its portfolio, including Ford, Pepsi and Danone, and has also helped Match win new accounts, such as Labatt’s.

Farren adds that many existing clients tapped Match for a second offering beyond the original partnership. For example, Match originally signed on to develop retail creative for Weston Bakeries for the fall 2012 launch of its newest flatbread offering and was later tasked with also handling merchandising, digital and print ads.

For the foreseeable future, Farren says the company will be focused on building critical mass, hiring people to help deal with the wave of new business and plugging any holes in its service offerings. But there won’t be any new major specialties added to the mix, he says hinting that Match is looking to expand into new cities with plans to acquire more agencies in the near future.

Pictured bottom left (l-r): Brett Farren, Michael Harris, president Marketing Drive and Weld Media and Perry Miele, chairman Match Marketing Group.