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Jellyfish You & Mr Jones Agencies

Brandtech adds missing piece to group offer as it completes Jellyfish deal

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By Sam Bradley, Journalist

June 1, 2023 | 7 min read

Successful pursuit of the digital media agency completes “first round” of the group’s master plan, says partner and new Jellyfish boss Nick Emery.

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Rob Pierre of Jellyfish and Nick Emery of Brandtech Group / Brandtech Group

After 10 months of negotiations, the Brandtech Group has completed its acquisition of digital media agency Jellyfish.

The digital media agency, which was founded in 2005, counts insurer Hiscox and Netflix among its clients and is a media partner of some of the largest platforms on the web, such as Salesforce, Snap and Google. Brandtech, meanwhile, includes agencies Oliver and Gravity Road under its umbrella. Together, the two companies will have a staff of more than 7,000.

Rob Pierre, founder and chief exec of Jellyfish, said: “Supporting the ambitions of today’s global brands requires something unique and that’s what I believe we have been building at Jellyfish Joining the Group will supercharge our capabilities and ambitions as we move into the next chapter of the Jellyfish story.”

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The deal, first trailed last August, is the ninth and largest acquisition made by Brandtech since its foundation as You & Mr Jones in 2015. Group founder and chief executive David Jones said: “When I created the company we set out to be the best in the world at helping clients connect content, data and media using technology and bringing Jellyfish into the Group allows us to take this to the next level.”

Brandtech now owns 100% of Jellyfish, though Fimalac, a French holding company that was a major shareholder of the agency, now has a stake in Brandtech. Pierre will act as chair of the agency while Nick Emery – a founding partner at Brandtech – takes over as chief exec.

Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, chief executive of Fimalac, said: “What The Brandtech Group has built and accomplished in just seven years is truly remarkable. We’re excited to become important long-term partners.”

Speaking to The Drum, Jellyfish CEO Emery said that the potential for growth is “huge” for the combined company. “When [Jones] set the company up in 2015, it was to disrupt the traditional model. He bought disruptive businesses to unite content, data and technology and has broadly done that. What he didn’t have is a media piece. Jellyfish is much more than a media business, but in many ways, this completes the first round of that initial vision.”

“Jellyfish is pretty unique in terms of its ability to work globally, to unite content, data and media, and to do it across all platforms. We think there's a huge opportunity to find what we think is a 21st-century marketing organization,” he says. “if your client wants to integrate your content and your media and your technology and you want platform expertise, and you want to do it globally, where can you go at the moment?”

Between client “dissatisfaction” with holding company models and the piecemeal nature of smaller operations, he says Jellyfish fills a “huge gap in the marketplace for clients, for us.” Emery says that he expects Brandtech to record “at least” 30% organic growth this year,” with “bigger clients, more growth from existing clients, and new business in the US” as his “number one priority.”

Despite recent layoffs at competitors, such as Stagwell and IPG, Emery said that he doesn’t anticipate job cuts to result from the deal. “It’s not something we’re looking at, it’s not a priority. This is about growth and positivity and expansion,” he says.

Brandtech is privately owned but claims it brought in $1bn in revenue last year, a figure that would have it level-pegging with Media.Monks owner S4 Capital. In a press release, the company claimed the Jellyfish deal would make it the “number one digital marketing group in the world.”

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Earlier purchases included e-commerce software firm Acorn-I in 2022, and Gravity Road in 2018. Brandtech has taken a “craftsman” approach to M&A over the last eight years, Emery says. “[Jones] has probably looked at 2,000-3,000 potential targets and only bought nine companies. It’s not a desperate, scattergun approach that other groups have.” The group is focused on making further deals in the near future, though. “We’ll look geographically at China, and at AI and automation,” he says, adding that the group isn’t just on the hunt to acquire – it’s also seeking strategic partnerships and alliances.

The aim, he says, is to create “a new era of what we think a 21st-century marketing organization should look like, rather than a kind of legacy Holdco.”

Jellyfish You & Mr Jones Agencies

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