Dentsu Aegis replaces Bos with McGarryBowen

Dentsu Aegis Network is replacing the Canadian agency brand Bos with the New York-born McGarryBowen to form dentsumcgarrybowen in Toronto and Montreal.

The changes are part of a global restructuring by the Japanese holding company, with the newly named agency network representing 3,000 employees in 24 global markets.

Stephen Kiely (above), previously president and CEO of DentsuBos, will remain CEO of dentsumcgarrybowen in Toronto and Montreal, although chief creative officer Sébastien Rivest has left the agency.

Rich Pryce-Jones is moving over from Grip, another Dentsu agency, to become chief creative officer.

The changes will provide the Canadian offices with greater access to the resources and expertise of a top agency network in McGarryBowen, said Kiely. DentsuBos has always been passionate about creative storytelling, he said. “But the one thing that’s really held us back is the lack of global creative connectivity, and this is a solve for that.

“It puts us in a tribe around the world.”

McGarryBowen was launched in New York in 2002, growing into a $57 million agency by the time it was acquired by Dentsu in late 2008, the height of the last financial crisis. Before today, McGarryBowen had three offices in the U.S. and nine other offices in large ad markets around the world.

Bos, meanwhile, was launched in Montreal in 1988, developing a reputation for quirky creative and helping build brands like Familiprix (see some of the “Ah-ha” campaign below), Fido and Iogo yogurt. The agency was acquired by Dentsu in 2012 and rebranded as DentsuBos in Montreal and Toronto.

“I think the day we did the deal with [Dentsu] we kind of knew this would happen at some point in time. Not for the first few years, but it would happen in time, and I think we’re comfortable with that,” said Claude Carrier, a long-time executive at Bos, the first president of DentsuBos Toronto after the acquisition.

A bit of the Quebec joie de vivre always influenced the agency as it grew and remained after the acquisition by Dentsu, he said. “When we merged, we became the go-to in terms of creative outside of Japan.”

“We’re taking all the incredible things that have been DentsuBos—in which Dentsu represented structure and rigour and global scale, and Bos was scrappy and entrepreneurial and crafty storytellers—we’re taking all of that and now joining this elite squad around the world,” said Kiely.

McGarryBowen has cultivated a reputation for its approach to strategy and branding. Greater access to that expertise around the world will enhance what densumcgarrybowen can offer clients in Canada, he said.

“That discipline around strategy, and the tried-and-proven techniques that McGarryBowen has, that’s an area that we’re looking to leverage big time with our clients in Canada,” said Kiely.

Dentsu Aegis is presenting the restructuring as a fusion of the “legacy and heritage of the East [Dentsu] with the entrepreneurial spirit of the west.”

In a release announcing the changes, Gordon Bowen, chairman of dentsumcgarrybowen and founder of McGarry Bowen, said that the vision for Dentsu Aegis Network is to be “idea-led, data-driven and tech-enabled.”

In the Canadian creative space, DAN will continue to operate Grip and digital specialists Isobar as independent operating business, although they will share with dentsumcgarrybowen what the company describes as “an integrated network platform for collaboration, customer intelligence, scaled content production and technology enablement.”

“We have an ambition to be the most creative agency network in the country,” said Jeff Greenspoon, CEO Dentsu Aegis Network Canada, in the release. “To do that, we are investing our time, energy and resources into building world-class creative agencies, that enable true creative innovation with organic methodologies and best-in-class talent to deliver ideas that transform businesses.

“The launch of dentsumcgarrybowen establishes an unrivalled creative agency for us both globally and here in Canada.”

David Brown