Merging the brand and branding the merger

Acquired by a newly formed Toronto marketing agency, Arcane signals it will carry on much as it always has

Photo: Eric Vardon

A MOVE TO bundle seven digital marketing ­agencies, including local firm Arcane, is likely a precursor to an Initial Public Offering by the newly created group.

“We’ll continue to operate as individual brands and move to an IPO. That’s where Thomas wants to go,” says Arcane co-founder, Eric Vardon.

Late last year, Toronto-based Thomas Le Maguer ­created Republix, which ­immediately ­purchased six agencies, including Arcane and his own ­eRational Marketing. The six agencies have reported ­revenues in excess of $20 million.

The six firms are identified as “citizens” of Republix, nomenclature that emphasizes their relative independence. Arcane, for example, will continue much as it has and does not plan to make cuts to its staff of about 55. “With certain changes, we will still run our business independently,” Vardon says.

“Our team and culture will stay intact, but we will be able to offer different applications and talent, things that will benefit our clients” ―Eric Vardon

With technology and data driving major changes across nearly every industry and vertical, marketing and ­advertising agencies are no exception. They’re ­consolidating quickly — both folding into large corporate consultancies or, like Republix, bringing together two or more ­established firms to offer a more complete package of media and ­analytics services.

Over its 10 years, Arcane has zigged and zagged to meet its clients’ needs, adapting to new technology and the ever-changing digital marketing landscape. Founded by Vardon and John D’Orsay, it set the standard locally for creative office space by creating the Cube, its downtown headquarters.

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Nearly three years ago, the firm reorganized. Vardon and D’Orsay stepped back (D’Orsay spends most of his time at EventConnect, where he became CEO in October), handing the leadership reins to Lindsay Schneider, CEO, and Dave Bunce, COO. At the time, the firm was larger, with about 90 employees and was charting a path toward becoming one of Canada’s Top Employers, a goal Schneider identified at the time.

The two leaders will continue as Arcane settles into the new Republix landscape, offering clients the same suite of services but able to reach out for expertise from other “­citizens” of the new group. There will be some shared ­operational work among the group, which could lead to job losses in London. But, Vardon says, as one of the largest members of the group, Arcane has developed management systems that it will continue to operate.

“Our team and culture will stay intact,” Vardon says, “but we will be able to offer different applications and talent, things that will benefit our clients.”

Republix is targeting clients across North America, ­offering a full panoply of digital services, highlighting the strength of its new collection of creative players. In addition to its management team of six, it has an advisory panel of the same size, on which both Vardon and D’Orsay sit. Merging the brand and branding the merger Arcane Mergers & Acquisitions Christopher Clark

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