The Brandon Agency, a 120+ employee independent ad agency with $75 million in billings and seven offices, acquired Artizen for an undisclosed amount.
Artizen’s leadership and creative team will continue to focus on their Charlotte clients. Artizen founder and creative director Cary Murphy will take on the newly created role of regional president and group creative director at The Brandon Group and will be responsible for the Charlotte office.
[Agenda related guide: List of top ad agencies in Charlotte]
This is not the Brandon Agency’s first acquisition. The company has acquired several agencies including a similar acquisition of KMT Creative in Chattanooga. CEO Scott Brandon believes that in the future agencies must hit a certain scale in order to maintain relevancy as a full service agency.
Cary and Scott were introduced to each other several years ago and kept the conversation going until the time was right.
Scott told me that he’d love love for the Brandon Agency to become the “Barkley of the Southeast.”
Reasons for the acquisition are obvious. Artizen gives the Brandon Agency a foothold in the growing Charlotte market with unsexy yet stable/profitable clients like Nucor, Dean Foods, S&D Coffee & Tea and Snyder’s Lance. The Brandon Agency gives Artizen the capabilities of a full service ad agency – PR, technology, research and media buying/planning.
“Acquiring Artizen grows our digital and creative firepower, as well as great clients to our roster. Even more exciting is what’s possible now that we’re in Charlotte — one of the fastest-growing markets in the Southeast,” said Scott Brandon, CEO of The Brandon Agency.
Scott is a Davidson College graduate, has a law degree from USC, serves as CEO of a hotel-specific ad agency named Fuel Interactive and is a director at a financial services holding company named Carolina Financial Corporation ($1 billion in assets). He’s not your typical ad agency executive. Scott told me that not coming from a large agency background gives him advantages that include an entrepreneurial mindset and focus on running a profitable business.
While about half the size, the Brandon Agency’s Charlotte setup is similar to that of ad agency Eric Mower who has 200+ employees and nine offices, including Charlotte. Having an office in Charlotte gives these growing agencies talent on the ground for key sales opportunities in a high growth city without a dominant local ad agency.
Since the acquisition, the Brandon Group’s Charlotte office has already grown from 7 people to 12 people and the team expects to grow by about 5 or so people in 2017 depending on business. The agency will hire in accountant management, technology and PR. Here’s a list of jobs they’ve already posted.
When I asked Cary and Scott where they see immediate new business opportunities, they mentioned social media strategy, media planning/buying. e-commerce, data/analytics, content creation and PR.