Building on his acquisitions this year of McCann Worldgroup Australia, The Red Republic, SMART and Red Engine SCC, McCann creative chairman Ben Lilley has today announced the acquisition of full-service brand and digital agency JSA Creative. JSA’s Brisbane and Gold Coast operations will be merged immediately with McCann and The Red Republic’s Queensland operations.
Jeremy Bews (right), managing director of JSA, said of the sale: “It’s an honour to be joining what I consider to be Australia’s most exciting agency group right now. McCann is the world’s most awarded agency network for both creativity and effectiveness. And I’ve admired how The Red Republic has grown from its Brisbane beginnings into an impressive national player with McCann. Now what a beautiful narrative for the next chapter in the JSA story.”
Established in 1991, JSA has grown to become a well-established and well-respected player in the Queensland agency market, offering creative, digital, design, content and social strategy to blue chip local and national clients including Brisbane City Council, CSIRO, Griffith University, Parmalat, Mater Group and the Queensland and Federal Governments.
Says Bews: “JSA has recorded extraordinary growth in recent years, especially during this challenging time as large corporates have invested heavily in digital transformation to streamline their operations. After 21 years, we’re excited to continue to evolve, prosper and sharpen our integrated brand experiences well into the future with McCann. Our shared values in providing an unwavering commitment to achieving the best possible client outcomes and having access to the most strategic and creative brilliance, made this unification a no-brainer. We also fondly remember McCann Brisbane circa 2009, whose success in attracting Brisbane’s best talent and their uncompromising creativity made them the agency to aspire to. So we’re firmly focussed on enhancing the McCann brand in the local market again.”
Says Carla Steadman (left), general manager of JSA: “We’re excited by what we can bring to McCann’s clients, particularly from a development level as Drupal specialists. Our large-scale corporate and government work has seen us make a significant investment in our tier-one Drupal capabilities, to build digital assets that not only look great, but are maximised for security, flexibility and ease of use. We’re adept at linking Drupal to other platforms and systems to leverage existing infrastructure or to provide integration with ecommerce, CRM or other custom APIs, as well as offering platform migration services and custom Drupal modules to answer specific requirements. And as community partners with Acquia, our global provider of Drupal support, we’re backed by the best. So as a fully integrated design and digital agency, we can deliver the best possible user experience for both end users and internal administrators.”
Lilley said JSA’s services and digital expertise will be immediately available to all national McCann clients including Coca-Cola, LinkedIn, L’Oréal, Mastercard, Microsoft, Menulog, Nestlé, Ebay, Sanofi and the Federal Government: “Jeremy and Carla have built a first-rate agency offering, especially in their digital capability and Drupal expertise. They’re also wonderful people with an equally wonderful agency team and culture. I couldn’t be more excited to be welcoming them to our national team.”
The JSA acquisition is a further step forward in Lilley’s strategy to acquire a national suite of integrated advertising and marketing businesses, taking an entrepreneurial approach to growing the agency group and its capabilities. Lilley confirmed that these acquisition plans remain unchanged despite the global COVID-19 crisis and that further acquisitions are underway and will be announced over the coming months.
During what has otherwise been a protracted lull in acquisitions by other agency networks and holding groups in Australia, Lilley said this ongoing acquisition strategy offers independent Australian agency owners a unique chance to become part of McCann’s national and international agency network, but still be senior leaders in a national Australian independent. Lilley described this as a rare window for independent agencies who are looking to sell and achieve “the best of both worlds: combining multinational clients, career opportunities and resources, but in an independent agency culture and mindset.”
McCann’s national agency group has grown on the back of a number of strategic acquisitions, including Lilley’s first independent agency SMART, which McCann acquired in 2011 installing Lilley as McCann Chairman and CEO and then as McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific Creative Leadership Chair. SMART itself undertook a number of acquisitions, starting with digital agency M4 Interactive and followed by creative boutique VCD/Kindred, retail specialist The Foundry, design agency Illuminati and Queensland specialists Turner Sands and Logan Meo Walters. At McCann, Lilley has completed further acquisitions including The Red Republic in 2016, design agency Studio Woo in 2017 and Red Engine SCC in April this year.
This growth over the past decade has helped see McCann Australia recognised as both the most awarded agency at the Cannes Lions and the most awarded creative agency in the world, as well as Australia’s top-ranked agency in both the Effies Index and WARC Effective 100. Globally, McCann is the World’s Most Creatively Effective Network in the Effie Worldwide Index for the third consecutive year and is also the Cannes Lions and Webbys Global Network of the Year.
McCann’s reinvigoration in Australia this year has also seen a string of high-profile hires, including most recently Roshni Hegerman who returned to the agency as executive strategy director, from her APAC role at McCann China, where she was regional strategic lead for Coca-Cola. McCann has also signed Ben Coulson as chief creative officer, Caroline McLaughlin as senior business lead and Simon Gawn as client services director.
Now Lilley intends to maximise the group’s national creative scope and scale by integrating more businesses in creative, data, design, media, technology and PR across Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland.
Says Lilley: “Our strategy is to scale our national suite of best-in-class solutions to best address each clients’ own specific suite of marketing and communications needs.”