BOS acquired by Dentsu

June 01, 2012  |  Jeromy Lloyd  |  Comments

Independent agency joins Japan’s biggest agency player

BOS, the independent Montreal-based agency founded in 1988, has been acquired by the Tokyo-based Dentsu Network, one of the largest agency operations in the world.

The now-combined agency will operate as DentsuBos. Bob Shropshire, formerly Dentsu Canada’s CEO, has been made chairman of the new business entity, while Michel Ostiguy, once president of BOS, is now CEO of DentsuBos and president of its Montreal office. BOS’ Claude Carrier will be president of the Toronto office.

Roger Gariepy, formerly a BOS employee, remains chief creative officer, and Dentsu’s Andy Manson keeps his title of executive creative director.

The deal was borne from Dentsu’s desire to bolster its French-language capabilities and Quebec credentials. It had previously partnered with agencies such as BleuBlancRouge and Republik in Quebec, but two years ago Shropshire began looking at acquisition targets.

“It felt like we needed to have some consistency and a fully national offering, especially when it comes to serving clients and developing new business,” Shropshire said.

Shropshire is a close professional acquaintance of BOS’ Carrier; both are active on the board of the Institute of Communication Agencies. Carrier said serious discussions about an acquisition began about a year ago.

Carrier said he is not concerned about BOS’ transition from a modestly sized independent shop to a regional arm of a global enterprise. As is typical of such deals, the benefits seem clear: the smaller shop gains scale and reach beyond its market, while the larger agency acquires niche expertise.

“Dentsu is such an innovative company,” Carrier said. “This is a firm that invests tens of millions of dollars every year into pure R&D, both in Tokyo and with the MIT Media Lab. This is a sure way to stay ahead of the game and build new ways to do things for our clients. The size of this made it appealing.

“There are many clients that were out of reach for us. A good example for me is the Royal Mint account; they specifically asked for an agency that could reach out to other places in the world… Now we have that reach.”

The acquisition will result in some efficiencies in terms of client work (both agencies currently work for camera company Canon), but there is a conflict being negotiated–Dentsu’s largest client is Toyota (and its affiliated Lexus brand), while BOS Montreal works with the Quebec Honda Dealers Association. Carrier said discussions on this issue are in the preliminary stages, and no decisions have been made.

In terms of staff, the BOS Toronto team will move to Dentsu’s office. Shropshire told Marketing there seems to be little redundancy between the teams as “both agencies run pretty lean” on client teams. Out of the approximately 200 DentsuBos employees, Shropshire estimates the only immediate redundancies are a handful of administrative roles.

The Dentsu brand has lower visibility in North America than most global agencies, although it is a powerhouse in its native Japan and neighbouring Asian nations. Its global revenues reached $4 billion in 2011, according to Ad Age DataCenter, making it the largest single agency globally (by revenue) and the world’s fifth-largest holding company. It has been making acquisitions in the U.S. (most recently New York’s M.L. Rogers in January). It is also in the process of rebranding its European operations under McGarryBowen, the U.S.-based company it acquired in 2008.

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