One Advertising plays in the Sandbox

The Toronto independent, along with three American shops, have joined together.

Toronto-based One Advertising has joined three U.S. agencies to become part of Sandbox.

Sandbox now includes McCormick Company, based in Kansas City, MO, as well as New York’s Underline Communications, and GA Communication Group, the first agency brought on board last year. The shop now totals 337 employees with offices in Toronto, Chicago, New York, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Des Moines, Amarillo and Indianapolis.

Led by advertising vets John Hilbrich and Mark Anthony (a One co-founder), the philosophy behind Sandbox is all about collaboration without “refereeing conversations between agencies,” according to its announcement today.

“We are really thrilled to welcome these three outstanding agencies to Sandbox as we take another significant step toward realizing our vision,” Hilbrich said in the press release.

“By removing the typical issues agencies squabble about, the founding members, who will become part of the Sandbox executive team, can focus on creating great work for clients by ‘playing in the sandbox’ to leverage the substantial creative and strategic resources within the company.”

Among One’s clients are Heineken, Canadian Blood Services, Canada Bread, H&R Block, Plan Canada and the LCBO. The agency – along with the other partners – will be rebranding to Sandbox over the next several months, with One being known as Sandbox Canada.

One was created after 58Ninety Inc. acquired Due North in 2012. In 2013, the agency also merged with Brandworks, creating what it said was one of the largest independent shops in Canada.

“We really have established quite a strong independent and thriving agency here in Toronto,” says Ted Boyd, One’s CEO. However, it had been looking at how it would continue building out its ancillary capabilities over the next three to five years.

Boyd and his team had been in talks with Anthony since last summer about how it could do just that and Sandbox was deemed the right fit.

Each of the partner agencies is bringing a certain level of expertise in particular areas, says Jill King, One’s president. McCormick has expertise in agriculture, GA Communication in health services, and Underline in ECRM, all of which are attractive and complementary to One’s work with its current client base. “We’re certainly not taking the eye off of our existing clients, but we think we can perhaps bring them more with the collective,” she says.

“I’m really excited from a creative standpoint because I think it gives us an opportunity to share knowledge and potentially additional creative horsepower to add to the equation,” adds Karen Howe, SVP and creative director at One.

One will also be continuing its relationship with independent agency network Worldwide Partners Inc.

As for Sandbox’s momentum, Boyd says that it will grow as it finds areas that will be “additive” for its clients and will involve collaboration with like-minded agencies. “I think when we’re fully satisfied that our clients are enjoying the benefits of this to the fullest amount possible, we might then look to expand further.”

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