DentsuBos merged with Mcgarrybowen

The relaunched agency, Dentsumcgarrybowen, will pull in even more global resources, including a new approach to strategic brand-building.

Dentsu Aegis has combined the Dentsu and Mcgarrybowen creative agency networks, relaunching them – including Canada’s DentsuBos – as Dentsumcgarrybowen.

Stephen Kiely, previously president and CEO of DentsuBos, will become CEO of Dentsumcgarrybowen in Canada.

Rich Pryce-Jones will be the agency’s CCO in Canada, having previously been creative partner at Dentsu-owned creative agency Grip (which lost two of its other creative leads last month). Sébastien Rivest, who was made CCO for DentsuBos in 2017, left the agency last month, and Kiely says he is currently pursuing new projects.

With the CCO role moving from Montreal to the Toronto office, ACDs Michael Aronson, Julien Thiry and Amy Maloney will lead creative on the ground in Montreal, with Dimitra Georgakis, VP of client service, and Fanny Quenneville, VP of production and operations, continuing to lead the office. Toronto ECDs Lyranda Martin-Evans and Travis Cowdy also remain in their roles, now reporting to Pryce-Jones.

At the global level, Dentsumcgarrybowen will be led by global co-presidents, Merlee Jayme and Jon Dupuis, who will report to Jean Lin, global CEO of creative agencies at Dentsu Aegis Network. Gordon Bowen, founder and global chairman of Mcgarrybowen, will take on the same role with the new agency.

Mcgarrybowen did not have an office in Canada, but Kiely says the relaunch will still bring some benefits to the agency and its clients in Canada, namely being able to tap resources from the Mcgarrybowen network, in addition to other Dentsu offices. In particular, Kiely points to Mcgarrybowen’s strategy discipline and its trademarked approach to masterbranding, which will now be something it will adopt in Canada.

“They’ve truly dissected how to get to a really effective platform, and we’ll adopt that practice and all the steps of strategically getting to what they call the ‘big organizing idea,’” he says, adding that – having brought global insights to its own clients while also working on Japanese brands – working across geographies is proven territory for DentsuBos. “It’s less about the country an office is in and more the city that it’s in. The idea is to really live the local office and understand that culture, to be able to leverage that both for local clients and on a macro global scale to compete for big global business.”

DentsuBos was created in 2012 when Dentsu acquired Bos, combining it with it existing Canadian operations. Mcgarrybowen was opened in 2002 by former executives from Y&R, and was acquired by Dentsu in 2008.

“[The 2012 acquisition] brought the big corporate agency together with the scrappy, entrepreneurial Quebec creative powerhouse,” Kiely says. “This is a continuation of that commitment to reinvention and doing better for clients with more talent and resources. It’s keeping the principles and the quality of work we’ve been doing at DentsuBos, especially over the last 18 months. That spirit will continue.”

Last year, parent company Dentsu Aegis announced its intention to reorganize its businesses into three main lines: creative, media and CRM. The creative line will combine creative, content, design and experiential agencies – which in Canada include Grip and digital innovation agency Isobar – and will be “powered by” an integrated network platform for collaboration, customer intelligence, scaled content production and technology enablement.

“This year we’re making moves to solidify and set up those lines of business,” Kiely says. “Within the creative line, this global tribe of Dentsumcgarrybowen is a giant leap forward in setting up that line for success.”

At the global level, Dentsu Aegis has reportedly not been able to avoid the layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts for senior staff much of the agency world is facing right now (a spokesperson for Dentsu Aegis confirmed to strategy it had “activated a set of cost saving measures” across its agencies, but did not confirm what those measures were or how many staff in Canada had been affected).

While not referencing any specific cost-cutting measures, Kiely acknowledged that this was a strange time to be announcing a new agency launch that had been in the works for some time.

“But if you look at the history of… Mcgarrybowen, [it] was launched on the heels of 9/11, and its first commercial featured the Statue of Liberty,” he says. “That shows that great things can come out of adversity. This is the opportunity we have upon us. It’s a weird time to be launching, but it’s purposeful, and there’s a real difference we can make.”

Dentsumcgarrybowen’s clients in Canada include Lexus, Subway, Chartered Professional Accountants, The Beer Store, Arterra Wines, Hitachi, Consigneco and TC Transcontinental.