After years of working together on shared clients, full-service agency Union and digital shop Trapeze became one company under the Union name Friday.
Trapeze was founded in 1999 by its current president Rob Balfour and executive creative director Mike Kasprow. Kasprow has been made a partner in the new combined agency, and bears the title executive director of innovation. Balfour will help the two shops merge over a 90-day period and then leave the business.
The merger more than doubles Union’s size to approximately 100 people, and massively expands its four-person in-house technology team to incorporate Trapeze’s 50-person staff who have built a reputation in the digital and social media space.
Subtej Nijjar, Union’s CEO, has worked with Kasprow for years. The two companies share clients in the Kraft brand portfolio and jointly pitched for work on Unilever’s Axe brand.
“[Union] has grown its digital business substantially and we needed to ensure we had the best-in-class digital competency in-house,” Nijjar said. “We’ve worked with great technology partners, but you lose a bit of quality and creative control when you outsource stuff. For us to really deliver on our creative vision, I think we needed that in-house.
“We’ve always had an integrated shop, but a small technology group. This just bolsters that capability for us.”
While Trapeze has operated as an independent since its creation, it was founded with minority-share backing from Miles Nadal’s Maxxcom Global Media holding company (the predecessor to MDC Partners, under which Union now operates).
“Miles was the early impetus for Trapeze independently of MDC,” Kasprow told Marketing. “Miles, Rob and I came up with the idea (of Trapeze) and then Miles helped make that happen. So we’ve always had a relationship with Miles… we’ve been tacitly related to them for a long period of time.”
The now-expanded Union is in full business-acquisition mode and Nijjar said the company now feels better able to handle clients looking for agencies to oversee integrated campaigns single-handedly. “In some initial [client] meetings, some people felt that a 40-person agency may not be able to handle all of the intricacies, and a lot of clients are looking for an integrated lead agency to ensure that all aspects of their business are being managed. So for us, this sets us up to deliver better on this now.”
The financials of the deal were not disclosed.