Following Ben Lilley’s acquisition of national PR agency The Red Republic in February as part of his purchase of McCann Worldgroup’s Australian operations, Lilley has today also been revealed as the buyer of independent creative agency Red Engine SCC, which will be merged with The Red Republic.
The acquisition is a further step in Lilley’s plans to acquire more advertising and marketing services businesses.
Reaffirming his commitment to taking an entrepreneurial approach to growing a national independent agency group with integrated capabilities, Lilley [feature image] confirmed further acquisitions are underway and more will be announced over the coming months. Red Engine SCC’s Sydney and Melbourne businesses will be merged into the national operations of The Red Republic, which Lilley describes as “a natural fit for the rapidly growing creative content needs of The Red Republic’s national client base.”
The Red Republic managing director Mia Hamilton said: “We are extremely excited to join forces with Red Engine SCC and take our content production to the next level. Content is king and it’s important to us that we’re offering clients the most creative solutions possible as we grow and expand. I’m thrilled to be working with Julian Townley and his team and can’t wait to make some incredible work for our clients.”
Red Engine SCC founder Julian Townley said: “I couldn’t be more pleased to be joining Ben, Mia and The Red Republic’s national offering. Ben’s entrepreneurial ambition and track record speak for themselves and this is an exciting new stage of creative growth for our Red Engine SCC staff and clients alike. Our creative content experience and capabilities align seamlessly with The Red Republic’s integrated offering and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect new home for our business.”
The announcement comes during a protracted lull in acquisitions by other agency networks and holding groups in Australia. Lilley said his ongoing acquisition strategy offers independent Australian agency owners like Townley a unique chance to become part of a national and international agency network, but still be senior leaders in a national Australian independent. Lilley described this as a rare window for independent agencies who are looking to sell and achieve “the best of both worlds: combining multinational clients, career opportunities and resources, but in an independent agency culture and mindset.”
Lilley confirmed that his acquisition plans remain unchanged despite the global COVID-19 crisis, reaffirming his recent comments that: “there’s nobody else in the market acquiring independents right now. And it’s unlikely we’ll see any more buyers for several years. So for agency owners thinking about selling their businesses or becoming part of a network, this is a chance to engage with our national group while we’re actively pursuing acquisitions.”
The Red Republic and Lilley’s broader agency operations have themselves grown on the back of a number of strategic acquisitions, including his first independent agency SMART, which McCann acquired in 2011 and installed Lilley as McCann Chairman and CEO and then McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific Creative Leadership Chair. At SMART, Lilley also undertook a number of acquisitions, starting with digital agency M4 Interactive and followed by creative boutique VCD/Kindred, retail specialist The Foundry, design agency Illuminati and Queensland specialists Turner Sands and Logan Meo Walters. At McCann, Lilley also completed two further acquisitions, buying The Red Republic in 2016 and design agency Studio Woo in 2017.
Now Lilley intends to maximise the group’s national creative scope and scale by integrating more businesses in creative, data, design, media, technology and PR across Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland. “Our strategy is to scale our national suite of best-in-class solutions to best address each clients’ own specific suite of marketing communications needs,” Lilley said.
Lilley said interested agencies can contact him “through our awesome client, LinkedIn.”
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