Ben Lilley acquires JSA creative, with agency to be absorbed into McCann Brisbane

Ben Lilley has made another acquisition, purchasing Brisbane digital agency JSA Creative, which will be merged immediately into creative agency McCann and public relations agency The Red Republic in Queensland.

The purchase was for an undisclosed sum.

Lilley acquired McCann Australia, which includes The Red Republic, from Interpublic in February, two years after departing as CEO. Not long after he revealed to Mumbrella an aggressive acquisition strategy to make McCann ‘the best creative agency’ in Australia.

In April, Lilley purchased the assets of creative agency Red Engine SCC after the agency entered administration, and rolled it into The Red Republic.

JSA was established in 1991 and holds blue-chip local and national clients including Brisbane City Council, CSIRO, Griffith University, Parmalat, Mater Group and the Queensland and Federal Governments. Its offering spans creative, digital, design, content and social strategy.

JSA’s general manager Carla Steadman and managing director Jeremy Bews

Jeremy Bews, JSA managing director, said joining McCann was an honour and a beautiful next chapter.

“It’s an honour to be joining what I consider to be Australia’s most exciting agency group right now. McCann is the world’s most awarded agency network for both creativity and effectiveness. And I’ve admired how The Red Republic has grown from its Brisbane beginnings into an impressive national player with McCann. Now what a beautiful narrative for the next chapter in the JSA story,” Bews said.

“After 21 years, we’re excited to continue to evolve, prosper and sharpen our integrated brand experiences well into the future with McCann,” he said.

“Our shared values in providing an unwavering commitment to achieving the best possible client outcomes and having access to the most strategic and creative brilliance, made this unification a no-brainer. We also fondly remember McCann Brisbane circa 2009, whose success in attracting Brisbane’s best talent and their uncompromising creativity made them the agency to aspire to. So we’re firmly focussed on enhancing the McCann brand in the local market again.”

General manager, Carla Steadman, said she was excited to begin offering JSA’s services to McCann’s clients.

Lilley said the duo had built a first-rate agency.

“Jeremy and Carla have built a first-rate agency offering, especially in their digital capability and Drupal expertise. They’re also wonderful people with an equally wonderful agency team and culture. I couldn’t be more excited to be welcoming them to our national team.”

Lilley intends to continue growing McCann’s national creative scope and scale by acquiring more agencies in creative, data, design, media, technology and PR across Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland. The arrangement offers independent agency owners the opportunity to gain connections and clients in the international McCann Worldgroup network whilst continuing to operate independently, he said.

“Our strategy is to scale our national suite of best-in-class solutions to best address each clients’ own specific suite of marketing and communications needs,” Lilley said.

This year, McCann has made a number of senior appointments including Ben Coulson as Sydney chief creative officer, Roshni Hegerman as executive strategy director, client services director Simon Gawn, and Caroline McLaughlin as senior business lead.

The Red Republic was acquired by McCann during Lilley’s first stint as CEO in 2016.

McCann declined to comment on the purchase price.


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