Stagwell diversifies with Dyversity

Stagwell, the advertising holding company that includes Doner, Anomaly, and Forsman & Bodenfors, has added significant multicultural marketing capabilities to its portfolio with the acquisition of Markham-based Dyversity Communications.

Dyversity—founded and operated by Canadian multicultural marketing pioneer Albert Yue—will join the Doner Partners Network (DPN), which includes DonerNorth, Veritas and Meat & Produce in Canada. The full-service agency boasts a full array of capabilities, from creative and strategy to PR, experiential and media. While its primary focus is on Chinese and South Asian consumers, it can produce work across 20 other languages.

Yue started the agency 28 years ago, and it has grown to more than 30 full-time employees serving key clients like RBC, Bell Canada, Canada Post, Tridel and Nestle. Yue is staying on as CEO, and said he has no plans to exit the agency any time soon.

With marketers increasingly seeking more diversity in their communications, Stagwell wanted to provide a more significant and complete offering by adding a top agency rather than trying to build its own expertise, said Krista Webster, vice-chair of DPN and president and CEO of Veritas Communications and M&P.

Stagwell had been looking for a new multicultural marketing partner for about a year, and met with a number of possible acquisition targets in addition to Dyversity. “I really wanted to make sure it was the right fit the right chemistry, the right calibre,” she said.

For a long time, multicultural marketing was treated as a separate category in most marketing plans, serviced by specialist agencies like Dyversity. By incorporating Dyversity within its operations, Stagwell can help those clients improve their multicultural marketing and give it the attention it merits, said Webster.

“I really wanted to bring the brilliance of what Albert has been able to do with really outstanding clients, but in a bit of a box,” she said. “And [I wanted to] take that box and open it, so that more of us can benefit from his expertise, at a time when I really feel that the industry has finally caught up and sees [multicultural marketing] not as just a nice to have, but a must have.”

Dyversity has been growing as more marketers and brand leaders recognize the importance of Canada’s multicultural market and the value of specialists who can meaningfully communicate with those markets in, said Yue.

Adding the resources of a network like Stagwell also allows Dyversity to take advantage of more opportunities across the country. “That’s the next level; that’s exciting to me,” he said. “I consider Dyversity is growing from strength to another level of strength by joining Stagwell.”

For now, Dyversity will stay at its office in Markham, just north of Toronto. Moving to downtown Toronto with DNP is an option, but Dyversity will remain a standalone agency even if that happens, said Webster.

“They are leading in the industry. So what I do not want to do is dilute them by taking what they have built and taking them apart and putting them into the agencies,” she said. “We’re actually going to double down on what we can do to be an additive for Albert in terms of helping to recruit great talent and bring in more resources that he may not have had.”

Short-term growth for Dyversity may be focused on Canada, but Yue and Webster are thinking bigger than that. “Once we look at the next phase of how we’re taking this to the next level, there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t cross borders. And that is certainly the intention,” said Webster. “This is something that I really feel will be a showpiece in Canada, that will also be a showpiece globally for Stagwell.”

David Brown