5 Shops Combine to Launch Merge in Chicago, Boston and Atlanta

By Lindsay Rittenhouse 

Since 2018 just started, there’s still plenty of consolidation to come in agency land. In the latest case, five agencies came together like a transformer to bring Merge to market in Chicago, Boston and Atlanta.

Merge—which is full-service in case you were wondering—combines five indie shops: Chicago’s HY Connect and Merge Design + Interactive, Boston’s Partners & Simons and Atlanta’s Dodge Communications and Avid Design. In a statement, Merge said the deal brings the unique expertise of each agency (strategic brand planning, creative and design, digital and tech development and contact planning across paid, earned and owned channels) to the combined entity.

“The name Merge reflects our belief that a collaborative business model leads to better results for our clients,” said CEO Ron Bess, who previously led HY Connect. “This branding is part of our continued evolution as a unified creative and media agency with a technology capability that allows us to go beyond the typical agency scope.”

The agency’s three offices will be branded as Merge Chicago, Merge Boston and Merge Atlanta, with Bess stationed in the Windy City. Merge boasts it can provide clients with solutions “equal to those most common among high-tech digital specialist agencies and tech consultancies,” according to the statement.

“Artists and scientists often have trouble speaking the same language,” noted Tom Brand, Merge Atlanta president. “The same is true of marketing and IT people in business, who often have different priorities. We help them find common ground.”

That sure sounds interesting.

Since the deal, Merge has won two accounts: restaurant chain Marco’s Pizza and medical device maker LivaNova. It also works with existing clients from its previously separate agencies including AIG, Harley-Davidson, Indiana University Health Systems, James Hardie, Land O’Frost, Nationwide, Roche, Sloan Kettering and several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans across the country.

The network employs a staff of 300 across its three offices.

“Our clients have access to a broader set of expertise, capabilities and services, now with the added flexibility to create purpose-built teams from a much deeper pool of talent, especially in media and technology,” Merge Boston president Andrew Pelosi added.