Smart acquires The Foundry to become Australia’s biggest independent agency

Smart_logo mumbrellaAdvertising agency Smart has acquired The Foundry in a move which it claims will make it the “largest independent trans-Tasman creative agency”.  

Almost all of The Foundry’s staff will move across along with clients including Barbeques Galore, Dick Smith Electronics and Stihl,  Oporto and Scania Trucks.

Smart’s key clients include Coca-Cola, DrinkWise, Specsavers, Horticulture Australia, Betstar and the NSW, Victorian, Queensland and Federal Governments.

Simon Burrett, co-founder and currently MD of The Foundry, will become Smart’s managing director

The Foundry’s Creative Director Annie Price will assume the role of Creative Director in SMART’s Melbourne office, working alongside Executive Creative Director John Mescall and Sydney Creative Directors Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan.

Ben Lilley - SMART mumbrella

Smart CEO Ben Lilley

Smart CEO Ben Lilley said: “Smart and The Foundry have been close competitors across both Sydney and Melbourne for the past several years, often appearing on the same client pitch lists.

“This marks Smart’s fourth acquisition in as many years (including Kindred in Sydney and Turner Sands and Logan Meo Walters in Queensland). We have now refined a mergers and acquisitions model that is proving very successful for our own business, our clients and the businesses we have acquired. This model is proving hugely effective in allowing the talent in each agency we acquire to realise the equity value in their companies, while allowing them to work on in an independent creative offering.”

Smart, founded a decade ago, is owned by Lilley, Mescall and managing partner Ashley Farr. It has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, The Gold Coast and Auckland

Lilley said that the agency was looking to “explore further acquisition opportunities across Australia and New Zealand”. He added: “At a time where larger agency holding companies are turning away from acquisitions to set up and fund organic start-ups, we expect to be able to announce further acquisitions by the end of the year.

Burrett said:“From the outset it became clear that this was an opportunity to create something really powerful. The strengths of the two agencies are remarkably complimentary and culturally there is a nice match.”

Lilley declined to disclose the exact number of staff moving across but said that two people had departed last week, with two further redundancies to follow from admin and finance roles.


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