Tadiem, the parent company of Bensimon Byrne, One Method and Narrative, has expanded into Quebec and introduced a fourth division with the acquisition of brand consultancy Folk.
Montreal-based Folk is a team of just three—co-founders Joannie Denault (centre in top photo) and Fanny Chabot (right), and managing director Claudia Milord (left)—but has developed an extensive network of expert collaborators and clients since launching seven years ago.
Tadiem and Folk started working together on shared client projects including Nature Conservancy Canada and Johnson & Johnson in 2019, and won another client on a joint pitch. “We started collaborating with these three incredible people, and things just naturally evolved,” said Tadiem CEO Sarah Spence.
“Our goal is to grow more of a Quebec footprint,” she said. Acquiring Folk means they are starting with a strong strategic foundation from which Tadiem—with a headcount of 176 after the Folk deal—can expand in different directions. “There will be opportunity to build and grow out Folk as our fourth division. And I think there may also be times where our other divisions—our clients in those divisions—will want to tap into that regional expertise… in a much bigger way.”
While Folk will help with Tadiem divisions and clients, it will keep its existing clients while being able to offer them access to some of the creative, PR and design expertise from Bensimon Byrne, Narrative and One Method respectively. “We’ll be focused on servicing them with brand strategy… but also able to include new services for them, which is good news,” said Denault.
Tadiem grew revenues 12% last year, enabling it to explore new ways of expanding, said Spence. “How can we double down on strategy and what we’re known for, because I think that’s crucially important to not just our heritage but where we’re going.”
While other agencies have expanded into Quebec, not many have done so by focusing on strategy, which has become increasingly valued by clients in recent years, added Denault.
When Folk first launched, people said it was risky to have a business focused solely on strategy, she said. But clients’ attitudes towards strategy have changed since then.
“In the past few years, the demand for brand strategy keeps increasing,” said Denault. “The landscape is changing, the media landscape, the pace of change is changing so much, and brand strategy can act as an anchor to help businesses, [and] really give them a path and a guideline for decisions.”
“I think the importance of strategy has gone up,” agreed Spence. “That’s not to say that the importance of creativity has gone down, but the more you start with a strong strategy the more it elevates and enables the creative to really hit in the right place and deliver the results that the clients are looking for.”