Dentsu brings custom content unit, John Brown Media, to Canada

Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) has launched its branded content unit John Brown Media in Canada.

John Brown Media has been expanding steadily since being acquired by DAN in 2015. Canada represents the 12th international market for the London-based network.

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Global CEO Andrew Hirsch said John Brown has grown to 350 employees worldwide with global revenue growth of 30% in 2018.

“We’re seeing more clients being fussy and wanting much stronger content than they’ve wanted in the past,” he said. “In my 25 years, [the content marketing space] has never been as hot as it right now.”

Canada was the next logical market for John Brown after expanding to the U.S, he said. “I’d been talking to the Dentsu team about where else we should be looking, and Canada was considered the right kind of market in terms of understanding the type of content we create.”

John Brown’s core content verticals—finance, travel, retail and automotive—are all “very well represented” among Canadian clients, said Hirsch. “It was a strategic decision, made at a high level within Dentsu, that we should look at Canada next,” he said. “For us it seems like a very good place to be.”

Hirsch has been meeting with potential Canadian clients in recent months, although there are no client agreements to announce. John Brown’s international client roster includes BMW Group, Chelsea Football Club, Nestlé, Virgin, John Lewis, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Waitrose.

The company seeks prospective clients both within DAN and outside its existing client roster, said Hirsch. “We look at our expertise, and if we can couple it with a client Dentsu already has that’s great, but sometimes we bring a new client to Dentsu.” In South Africa, for example, John Brown currently works with a large retailer that is not a Dentsu client.

John Brown’s expertise extends across print, digital, social, video and audio. Hirsch said that print—which includes custom magazines for the South African grocery chain Pick n’ Pay (Fresh Living), U.K. chain Waitrose (Waitrose Food) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (Business Agenda)—remains resilient in many markets. “Our job is to understand who the client is trying to service through content, and what are the right channels to push that content through.”

Hirsch said that much of John Brown’s success stems from its ability to attract top-notch writers, editors and designers, particularly as the traditional print industry is retrenching in the face of declining advertising and subscriber revenue.

“We’re in a perfect space where we’ve got a content industry that’s growing, and a marketplace of top talent. There’s no shortage of great talent anywhere in the world right now.”


Chris Powell