Blackjet acquires shopper marketing specialist Spider Marketing

Two years into its five-year growth plan, Toronto creative consultancy Blackjet has acquired shopper marketing agency Spider Marketing. Terms of the deal, which officially closed on Jan. 1, were not disclosed.

The acquisition fits with Blackjet CEO Rob Galletta’s vision to build a strategic brand and business consultancy backed by subject specialists as opposed to generalists. Shopper marketing was one of the disciplines on his target list, and Spider was the only company he spoke with.

“We are actively looking to acquire agencies and technology companies that will complement our offerings and deliver on our vision of a decentralized consultancy, offering services that modern marketers demand, without the trappings of a ‘full-service’ operating model,” said Galletta in an email to The Message.

Blackjet already had close ties to Spider through chief growth officer (and former FCB Canada CEO) Paul Mead, who joined the company last year with a mandate to manage its expansion. Mead had worked with the agency’s president Rico DiGiovanni in the mid-1990s, when the latter launched the Impact unit within FCB.

DiGiovanni said he had already had a couple of agencies “kicking the tires” on Spider over the years, but immediately felt a kinship with Galletta when Mead brokered a meeting between the two.

“[Paul] thought that Rob and I would get along very well together, because we have similar characters, values, business and management style,” he said. “I met with Rob, and we really hit it off.” The deal was struck “within a few meetings,” he said.

“When we dug deeper and I got to know Rico’s leadership style, Spider’s experience, and most importantly the core values alignment, we knew that there was a great fit,” added Galletta. “We felt that we could both add value to each other’s client roster.”

Spider brings extensive shopper marketing and promotion capabilities to Blackjet’s expertise in brand strategy, design, digital storytelling and production. Its client roster includes Kruger Products (including the Cashmere, Scotties, and SpongeTowels brands), as well as Canadian Tire, Andrew Peller, Bimbo Canada and Lantic Sugar.

DiGiovanni, whose career also includes stops at Capital C and Marketing Drive Worldwide, will continue to lead Spider, which will operate independently within Blackjet, maintaining its name and operating structure. The deal enables DiGiovanni to augment Spider’s shopper marketing capabilities with Blackjet’s array of services such as strategy and design, creative, digital and a production studio.

The deal comes amid a strong growth period for Blackjet, which has added Onlia Insurance, Gay Lea Foods, the Japan National Tourism Organization and The University of British Columbia to its client roster. The 14-year-old company now employs 45 people.

Chris Powell