Growing The Garden with Andy Macaulay

Andy Macaulay, one of Canada’s most respected and accomplished agency builders, is joining Toronto-based agency The Garden as its chief growth officer.

Macaulay has been working on his own consulting business Metapurpose since leaving Rethink, where he was managing director in Toronto from 2014 to 2018. Before that, he was well-known in Canadian adland for helping build Roche Macaulay and Partners in the 1990s, followed by Zig in the early 2000s (that agency evolved into Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s Canadian presence).

He started consulting with the seven-year-old agency a little more than two years ago, and liked what he saw enough that he agreed to join The Garden*. “I think they’ve got a great thing going,” he said. (Macaulay will also keep Metapurpose going though he won’t be working with any competitive businesses.)

The Garden is an independent agency with a record of good strategy and creative, the potential to grow, and a leadership team he really connected with and respected.

“When you’ve seen as much as I have, one of the things that attracts you is people who know what they’re doing, but do it in a lovely way; do it in a way that’s respectful to their clients, to their people, and to each other,” he said. “It has a wonderful feeling to the culture that is reminiscent of cultures I’ve been part of helping build in the past.”

With Macaulay joining, The Garden now has a four-person senior leadership team of co-founders Shane Ogilvie and Shari Walczak, along with managing director Dic Dickerson.

Ogilvie said that during the early part of his career, Macaulay was known around the industry for leading agencies producing some of the best work and hiring some of the best people.

“He created so much impact, that a couple of years ago, I was floored he was willing to give us a hand,” said Ogilvie. And once Macaulay started working with them, Ogilvie quickly saw how he was helping the agency in meaningful and important ways.

“One of the things I’ve learned since launching this agency [in 2015] is the most dangerous things are the things you don’t know that you don’t know,” he said. “Andy was there to bring his years of experience, help point out those things, and help us understand and see them before they became problems.”

While someone with the title chief growth officer might be associated with new business, that will not be the primary focus for Macaulay, who joins the agency as the industry continues to be reshaped by the transformative forces of new technologies and growing interest in data-driven performance marketing.

Both Ogilvie and Macaulay say those new and emerging demands and expectations from marketers is why the management and agency building experience of Macaulay can benefit The Garden. “As the agency scales… our ability to invest in those sorts of things will only increase, so how do we do that in the smartest way possible, in a way that’s going to add value for our clients,” said Macaulay.

Growth can mean expanding the capabilities and expertise of the agency to drive organic growth with existing clients. “That’s the first and most important way to grow for sure,” said Macaulay. Industry changes should be viewed as opportunities for agencies to “spread their wings,” he said.

Macaulay will work to expand the agency’s in-house production capabilities as it incorporates more data analytics into its strategic offering, for example. “The whole industry has moved from a model of producing really expensive content, fairly infrequently, to producing really inexpensive content all the time,” he said.

“And that has structural implications. It has capability implications, it has revenue implications, and we have to deal with all of those.”

The Garden has already been on a growth spurt since late last year and into early 2022, with expanded mandates from AOR clients Sodastream, Roots, Jack Astor’s and Fitzrovia, and new business wins including TG Appliances, RBC Ventures (Ownr), Rakuten Kobo and Radford Beauty. The agency currently has 25 staff, but is looking to hire across departments.

After 40 years in the business, and at the age of 63, did Macaulay not consider retiring rather than starting with a new agency?

I’m way too restless intellectually to give up and start playing golf,” he said. “So it becomes a question of where do I want to channel my energy, and I want to channel it in a place that’s populated by great people who are doing smart things.”

*This story has been updated to clarify that Macaulay will continue to do consulting work with Metapurpose. 

David Brown