U.K.’s Talon Acquires West Coast OOH Media Agency Grandesign

By Lindsay Rittenhouse 

U.K.’s largest independent out-of-home media specialist, Talon, has acquired Grandesign, an indie OOH media agency headquartered in San Diego, for an undisclosed sum, as it boosts its expansion efforts in the U.S.

Grandesign’s experiential division was not included in the deal, so it will operate as a standalone entity while still acting as a strategic partner of sorts to Talon. Grandesign’s six offices in San Diego, Denver, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Atlanta will be rebranded as Talon. The acquisition comes a year after Talon, which handles all of Omnicom Media Group’s displays in the U.K. for brands including McDonald’s and Google, opened its first U.S. office in New York.

Now, Talon will be expanding its footprint to the west coast—where there’s a growing interest in the OOH space, particularly from Silicon Valley marketers.

“We’re seeing the U.S. market as a really important market for us to get involved in,” said Talon managing partner Adrian Skelton, who added this particular acquisition is just the “start of our journey.”

According to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America, OOH marketing revenue in the U.S. rose to $7.7 billion in 2017 with top spenders including McDonalds, Apple, Geico, American Express, Google, Amazon, Coca-Cola, HBO, Verizon and Chevrolet.

Adrian Skelton (left) and Aaron Gaeir (right).

While OOH marketing used to be “an old-school media,” said Grandesign founder and former CEO Aaron Gaeir, it’s now being “driven by the most sophisticated technology companies” with the rise of new advancements in digital placements.

Gaeir is being re-shifted into the role of Talon chief revenue officer following the closing of the deal. He said his end goal for Grandesign—which notably created a replica of the creepy house in horror film It on a Los Angeles street corner ahead of the release of the movie in 2017—has always been to sell, once he found the perfect buyer.

“This was the plan from the start: build an attractive company for eventual liquidity,” Gaeir said. “We’ve always had what we felt was very sought after—aggressive growth, great environment, a diversified portfolio and great clients.”

He explained that he’s been searching “aggressively and actively for two years” to find a “likeminded” buyer that placed as high an importance on investing in people as Grandesign does.

“I couldn’t find a lot of companies that placed people first,” Gaeir said. “When I met [Talon founder and executive shareholder] Eric Newnham and I asked him what he attributed his success to, he immediately said ‘people’.”

This is arguably our most exciting move to date with the U.S. offering real opportunity to embrace our approach that has brought success to date,” added Newnham. “Data and technology is enabling real differentiation and growth for us globally, and this is part of a wider expansion programme that is just beginning.”

As a result of the recent international growth, Talon appointed Barry Cupples, former global investment CEO of Omnicom Media Group, as global CEO last month.