Montreal-based agency Substance has taken a minority stake in Toronto based agency Church+State. As part of the deal, Church+State has also made an investment in Substance. Both agencies will combine forces to create a new national holding company that is located here, focused here, and totally committed to helping businesses and marketers grow here. The new group plans to pursue further acquisitions to further solidify its position on a national scale.
While each agency will remain as separate and independent entities with no changes to existing leadership, they will unite their strengths to become one of the leading independent full-service agencies in Canada with strategy, creative, media, production, PR, data & analytics, and more.
“Our teams had already worked on a couple of clients together,” states Church+State CEO Robin Whalen. “We knew that in addition to our complementary capabilities, we also shared the same values about how we approach the work, our clients, and our people.”
Each agency is certified as a Great Place to Work with Substance holding the highest rank of any agency in the country - 22nd in Canada and 3rd in Quebec for companies between 50-99 employees.
With different strengths and different relationships, the two agencies will provide opportunities for each other. Earlier this year, they came together to win a pitch for Innovative Medicines Canada with Church+State taking the lead on strategy and creative and Substance taking the lead on media, performance analytics, and French creative.
“Ambitious marketers don’t just need new approaches to address their new reality,” says Substance Founder and CEO, Guillaume Brunet. “They need unique structures with collaborative cross functional teams using rigorous and nimble processes to deliver it. We’re excited to provide a real Canadian alternative for Canadian marketers.”
Church+State founder Ron Tite continues, "We don’t want to be the ‘darlings’ of the industry. We want to be trusted advisors who put our clients’ success before our egos. And we’re just getting started.”
Both agencies were founded around the same time in 2012. They started in different cities but had the same vision of evolving the agency model to match the evolution of communications. That vision continues with this agreement. More details about the holding company brand and roles within the groups will follow in the weeks and months ahead.