Dentsu UK&I has today announced that Manchester-based creative agency BJL will join dentsuMB UK, bringing together over 120 UK employees to form a national creative agency. The combined agency will operate under the dentsuMB brand and will continue to be led by dentsuMB UK CEO Gareth Collins.
The merger is the latest move by dentsu to establish dentsuMB and Isobar as the creative heart of the network. dentsuMB launched in May 2020 by bringing together dentsu brand agencies with mcgarrybowen, a global creative house founded in 2002.
Dentsu acquired award-winning creative agency BJL in February 2019. With its long history of working with iconic British brands, such as British Airways, Asda, Ronseal, and Halfords, BJL’s domestic market expertise will complement dentsuMB’s global client base which includes American Express, Asahi, DAZN, and Generali.
Located in London and Manchester, the agency will provide world-class creative solutions to global and national clients, with the opportunity to execute at scale. BJL also brings along capabilities across digital, CRM, PR & social.
BJL Managing Partners Julie Chadwick and Guy Ainsworth, alongside Director Lucy Pritchard, will work with dentsuMB Managing Partners Brendan Taylor and Aarti Kulkarni to lead respective client teams.
Simon Lloyd, dentsuMB’s chief creative officer, will lead the newly combined dentsuMB creative offering working closely with BJL’s Creative Director Richard Pearson overseeing creative operations in Manchester.
dentsuMB’s chief strategy officer, Sophie Lewis, will work closely with BJL’s Head of Strategy, Tony Evans, and Head of Commercial Strategy Karen Kidd.
BJL CEO Nicky Unsworth, managing partner Jackie Holt and finance director Iain Kerr will all step down at the end of April after successfully integrating BJL into dentsu. The trio have been pivotal to the development and expansion of BJL, which was founded in 1987 and has grown to be one of the most awarded in Manchester.
James Morris, CEO UK&I and president EMEA, creative at dentsu, said: “Our vision is to deliver creative excellence by providing our clients with contemporary creative products and services. The BJL team will bring a wealth of new skills and capabilities to dentsuMB, together expanding the scale, scope and expertise of the agency to become both a domestic and global creative powerhouse.”
Gareth Collins, denstuMB UK CEO, said: “It is with great excitement that we welcome the BJL team into dentsuMB. The combined result is a creative hub of true scale that will allow us to flex to the needs of clients both globally and nationally.
“Having locations in both London and Manchester gives unparalleled access to a rich and diverse talent pool across the country. I’m very excited about the agency culture we will build together as we continue to establish dentsuMB as a global creative hub within dentsu.”
Nicky Unsworth, CEO of BJL, said: “Since BJL was acquired by dentsu in 2019, we have been working towards this moment as part of a long-term succession plan for the agency. After more than 30 years of great success, delivering campaigns for some of the UK’s most iconic brands, we were keen to ensure that the next phase of BJL’s development was with the right agency partner.
“Having worked closely with the team at dentsuMB for many months, we knew this was the right cultural fit for BJL, and the best way of maximising the capabilities and expertise we have built up over three decades. I’m very proud of our leadership team, which will now transition to leadership roles in dentsuMB and help to build a truly global creative hub in London and Manchester.”