SAINT JOHN – THE GINGER AGENCY IS ACQUIRING SAINT JOHN-BASED BONFIRE COMMUNICATIONS INC., IN A MOVE THE COMPANIES SAY WILL FORM NEW BRUNSWICK’S LARGEST MARKETING AGENCY.
The combined agency, which will operate under the Ginger brand, will be led by Ginger Co-CEOs, Andrew Bedford and Kerry Wells.
Allan Gates and Donna Redmond Gates started Bonfire roughly a decade ago in Saint John, and have grown the company into a full-time staff of seven with experience working with some of the largest companies in Atlantic Canada.
Bonfire has become adept at marketing, public relations and social media strategies for its clients with added focus on design and branding. Its list of notable client work includes Atlantic Lottery, Crosby’s Molasses and Mariner.
They’re also co-founders but no longer owners of Huddle.
While Gates described Bonfire as coming off its best year ever, that performance has not been without challenges, with Gates adding Bonfire needed more bodies to help resource the array of work that needed to be done.
“We knew we needed more talented and highly skilled people. It was becoming a challenge to find them, and we had some good conversations with Andrew and Kerry and the Ginger Agency and realized that we had really complementary teams, that they have a lot more technical expertise,” Gates told Huddle. “We have a lot of strategic marketing experience. It was a good fit together.”
Looking to do more for Bonfire’s clients meant having to provide a more diverse service; Gates admits it’s been difficult to hire the people with the right skillset in the current labour market.
He believes bringing Bonfire’s current expertise to The Ginger Agency would work to provide the expanded suite of services that Bonfire’s clients need.
The move will see all of Bonfire’s staff joining the Ginger Agency, with Gates assuming the role of President and Redmond Gates also taking on the position of Strategic Counsel.
Ginger Agency Co-CEO Andrew Bedford likes the experience coming from Bonfire and sees it as providing the firm’s existing clients with a more robust suite of end-to-end strategic marketing and communications services that will be offered now under one roof.
“Allan is certainly a known commodity in the marketing communication space and his track record is well proven,” said Bedford. “And just coming up in the industry, he’s always someone I’ve admired and respected.”
Bedford says as Bonfire grew it was apparent that both firms were growing in parallel to one another in different cities, citing the awareness of working with friendly competitors in a small province.
Bedford agrees that parallel growth needed to intersect, and it did, noting that in discussions around bringing on Bonfire, it became apparent such a move would create a lot more opportunities for everybody involved.
“They have more experience on the public relations side,” said Bedford about Bonfire. “They have more experience on their team in terms of being industry veterans with communications firms, and our team is more of a focus on digital strategy, creative execution and creative strategy. So, the two complement each other very well.”
In addition to its office in Fredericton, the Ginger Agency recently opened an office on King Street in Saint John, not far from Bonfire’s location at Brunswick House, with Gates adding Bonfire’s team will begin working out of Ginger’s space.
A made in New Brunswick firm
Ginger Agency’s acquisition of Bonfire will add to its expanded suite of services which now includes expertise in strategic marketing, public relations, media buying, digital strategy, and industry-leading creative and video production, all in-house.
As the largest shop in the province going forward with nearly 25 employees, Bedford feels adding the skills from the team at Bonfire will help the Ginger Agency remain competitive in the region.
“There are other agencies that have offices here that are based in other provinces, which are larger overall, but there is no firm operating from New Brunswick that would be the same size as ours or have the deep experience on the team that we have.”
To continue growth, the company is also hiring for senior agency positions in New Brunswick.
“It is great to have an agency of scale in New Brunswick,” said Gates, who described himself as getting back in the trenches and eager to help the expanded team at Ginger. “We’ll be able to take on any client in this province, any client in Atlantic Canada now from here in New Brunswick. I think that is something we can all be a little bit proud of.”
Gates says the acquisition of Bonfire is expected to be finalized on June 1. The financial terms of the sale are not being disclosed.
See Tyler MacLean’s full Huddle article HERE.