Arlene Dickinson gets into media with a Bullet

Arlene Dickinson, president and CEO of ad agency Venture Communications, has acquired the Canadian daily newsletter The Bullet and content development agency Newsworthy in a deal that will see the creation of a new media platform in the coming months.

Launched by Joanna Track in 2016, The Bullet is a daily newsletter covering current events in a short and snappy “easy-to-digest format.” Last year, Track launched Newsworthy as a content agency to help monetize some of the content creation capabilities developed around The Bullet. The acquisition includes nine employees across both businesses, which also work with a roster of freelancers to produce content.

Dickinson, well known outside the ad industry as a Dragon on the CBC’s The Dragon’s Den, said that in part, the acquisition is simply about owning and growing an independent Canadian media voice at a time when so many media businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

“How do we get these grassroots journalists out there and able to talk about what’s going on without the restraint and constraint of [media] ownership that basically has control of everything in our country,” she said. “I love the independence of The Bullet, and I think Canada needs it.”

Dickinson has also shifted her marketing focus towards food, beverage and health CPG categories in recent years, creating a small network of businesses focused on building launching, growing and commercializing brands in those categories. Aside from Venture, that network includes District Ventures Capital, District Ventures Marketing, and District Ventures Accelerator and Kitchen.

Newsworthy will produce long-form branded content for those businesses that are already working within District Ventures, but the deal will also lead to the creation of a new media platform similar to The Bullet but focused on food, health and personal care and wellness, said Dickinson.

“It’s been a focus area of mine for a while now. I’ve been adding pieces to that, and a piece I thought was really important was having a media platform,” said Dickinson. “We do venture capital, we do marketing, we do programming, but what we didn’t do is have a consumer-facing media platform. I was thinking about this, and then had been having conversations with Joanna, and it just seemed like the right marriage at the right time.”

Track is a former Ogilvy & Mather account director turned serial entrepreneur. She launched the female lifestyle brand in 2004, and online shopping destination eLUXE in 2010.

In a note to Bullet subscribers, Track described Dickinson as an “advocate for female entrepreneurs, becoming a beacon of light for those of us trying to survive the crazy rollercoaster of business ownership.”

With the acquisition, Track becomes District Ventures’ executive vice-president, media network, overseeing existing media properties and development of the new consumer facing platform.

In an email to The Message, Track said that for the moment, nothing will change with The Bullet. “[B]ut with this announcement and the strength of Arlene’s network of companies, we expect to increase our reach rapidly. Over the next six months, The Bullet will evolve to provide more content that supports the mission to help Canadians ‘live well.'”

David Brown