WPP Buys Canada’s John St.

Toronto-based shop employs 100

WPP Group has acquired Canadian agency John St. for an undisclosed sum.

The Toronto-based boutique had unaudited revenue of about $13.6 million at the end of 2012, according to WPP. The shop opened in 2001 and employs about 100 staffers.

John St. handles lead advertising responsibilities in Canada for Mitsubishi, ING Direct and retail conglomerate TJX, which in Canada owns stores like Winners and Marshalls. Other clients include AstraZeneca and Canadian consumer electronics manufacturer Kobo.

In November, Canada’s Strategy magazine named John St. Silver Agency of the Year and Silver Digital Agency of the Year, noting the humor that has driven much of the shop’s viral success.

The agency has created widely noted campaigns for brands like Stanfield's Clothing, as well as popular self-promotional videos that poke fun at advertising industry tropes, including "Buyral" and "Pink Ponies: A Case Study." 

John St. CEO Arthur Fleischmann cited a need for deeper capabilities—particularly in media, direct marketing and public relations—as a rationale for selling to WPP.

"We're starting to work with larger clients and get on pitch lists with larger clients and we're seeing that the needs of these larger clients are deeper and more complex than what John St. was able to offer independently," Fleischmann said. "We see enormous value in being an independently minded agency in a network like WPP."

The deal comes two years after WPP acquired another Toronto-based shop, Taxi, and added it to the stable of Young & Rubicam Brands.